Former commercial star earns national soccer award
MAY 22, 2013 1:58p ET
The then nine-year-old dribbled his little heart out in an adidas commercial shown throughout the World Cup, countering the Nike ones. It was a different view, a different take. But with the magic of his feet on full display, he showed just how beautiful the game is, making a soccer ball out of grocery bags.
The theme: Impossible is nothing. And a star was born who did his own stunts, further proving the point. He went feverishly through the motions of a 12-hour shoot for a one-minute commercial and handled all of the pressures that come with the rigors of show business.
“Me being nine-years-old, it was just nerve-racking,” Roldan said.
Roldan handled those nerves well and by enduring the pressures of commercial making, it helped him face the challenges that would be present as a high school senior.
The commercial was seen all over the globe, but the bright light cast around Roldan, who earlier this week was named the Gatorade National Boys Soccer Player of the Year, didn’t reach very far.
He often times went unnoticed and overlooked. Yes, as the future National Player of the Year prepared to enter his senior year at Pico Rivera El Rancho High School, he wasn’t on the radar of many Division I programs.
“Nobody knew who this kid was until probably Thanksgiving,” El Rancho head coach Dominic Picon said.
The one-time Cal State Bakersfield commit had some interest from Division II and Division III soccer programs to play collegiately.
Picon received a call from University of Washington head coach Jamie Clark during Thanksgiving weekend.
“I thought this kid was a U.S. National Team player,” said the Huskies coach. “I saw him take five or six kids on, run 70 yards at the goal, beat them all, and score a goal.
“Yeah,” Picon responded. “He’s the real deal.”
Roldan entered El Rancho High School with an inordinate amount of fan fare. He was known as the kid on the adidas commercial and thought to be a talented player. He was scheduled to be a starter for the varsity as a freshman but was limited to just two games after suffering an arm injury.
He bounced back his sophomore year to earn CIF Player of the Year honors. He had another stellar season as a junior scoring 21 goals as a center midfielder but continued to fly under the radar.
Roldan He didn’t play for one of the larger club teams. Although he had opportunities to play for both the Galaxy and Chivas USA academies, he turned them down because it would have prevented him from playing for El Rancho.
“I wanted to stay loyal to my club and high school,” he said. “The high school means so much to me.”
Roldan moved to forward for his senior year and led his team to a title in the South Torrance tournament last December. He scored 11 goals in five games, including a five-goal performance vs. San Pedro. Others began to take notice, Washington began to cement his commitment.
He finished the season with a state-leading 54 goals and chipped in 30 assists while guiding the Dons to their second CIF title in three seasons and the first regional championship in program history.
“He’s got video game-like numbers playing in what is the toughest area for high school soccer in the entire country,” Picon said.
Earlier this week, former U.S. National Team member Alexi Lalas was at Roldan's school surprising him with the Gatorade National Player of the Year trophy.
“I was quite surpised,” Roldan said. “Once I saw (Lalas), I was just like, ‘This is a big deal.’”
For the first generation American, who’s father hails from Guatemala and mother from El Salvador, it was validation. He knew he was a good player. His coaches and teammates knew it, as did his opposition. Now it was time for the world to get reaquinted with the kid who as a nine-year-old showed up impossible is nothing.
The award meant happiness for he and his family but it has not stopped his need to persevere.
“I was down on myself,” Roldan said of initially being overlooked. “What player wouldn’t be?
“I really think that going to the University of Washington really helped me have that chip on my shoulder because I’ll be going up (against) UCLA and these big name schools that overlooked me.”
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