Two OSA FC standouts and teammates, midfielders Handwalla Bwana and Alex Roldan, will continue their playing careers with Seattle Sounders FC. The pair were an integral part of OSA’s 2017 NPSL and U.S. Open Cup campaigns.
Bwana was signed as a Homegrown Player on January 11th, while Roldan was selected in the first round of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft on January 19th.
Bwana, 18, spent two seasons at the University of Washington. He was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year in 2016 after registering four goals and seven assists.
The 2017 season was even more prolific as the Kenyan ranked second in the Pac-12 in goals (eight), points (22), and shots (57) and was fourth in assists with six. He earned All-Pac-12 and United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division I All-Far West Region First-Team honors after this impressive haul.
UW Head Coach Jamie Clark was excited to see Bwana take the step to the next level.
“Handwalla has had two great seasons at Washington. He’s grown as a person and player, and it will be fun to see him follow in the footsteps of fellow Huskies, Henry Wingo, and Christian Roldan, who have gone on to do very well with the Sounders.”
Clark was also very appreciative when it came to Bwana’s contributions to the program.
“Handwalla is an exciting player that Pac-12 fans have enjoyed watching for the past two seasons,” added Clark. “He will be missed, but it will be fun to watch him take the next step in his career.”
Filippo Milano, PacNW-OSA FC’s Technical and Player Development Manager, was quick to praise the work of the eighteen-year-old.
“Handwalla is a midfielder that was very versatile and can play as a number four, number six, number eight, or number 10. At UW he moved to a number 10 position and that helped him score more goals. I would say that he definitely has a high propensity of being an offensive midfielder. He has an amazing control of the ball, technical skills that are impressive, and when compared to his peers, he seems more mature.”
Bwana was grateful for the help Milano provided.
“Filippo was a wonderful guy with a heart that was willing to help you with anything. Playing in the NPSL helped me stay fit and get game time. Being able to play in the U.S. Open Cup, it was fun to see where you were at and I really enjoyed it.”
Bwana was thrilled that the Sounders recognized his potential and signed him to a Homegrown deal.
“It was an amazing moment. It showed that Seattle believed in me and they wanted to give me the opportunity to develop. The earlier I came, the more I get used to the level and the more I will learn from the older, more experienced guys.”
Roldan made 82 appearances (all starts) for the Redhawks and finished with career totals of 18 goals and 17 assists. The Pico Rivera, California native received United Soccer Coaches All-Region First Team (2017) and All-WAC First Team (2016 and 2017) honors along with several others, including the College Sports Madness WAC Men’s Soccer Player of the Week (Sept. 22-28, 2014) and a 2018 MLS Combine invite.
Milano was very impressed with Roldan’s time at OSA and knows that he is a very special player indeed.
“Alex is a mix of technical ability and tenacity and that’s a quality that really helped him with his college career. He’s able to bring something from the offensive side but he’s also good at defending when it’s needed. He has a natural leadership skill and that’s going to help him in his career. I don’t have a doubt that Alex will do well. Even though it’s a big step going from college to MLS, playing in the NPSL and having the chance to play in the U.S. Open Cup will facilitate this step.”
Roldan was also very excited to get started with preseason training.
“It’s exciting. I was able to meet the guys, very humble and nice guys that welcomed me into the team. I can have an easier transition than most people because I have a brother on the team. Overall the welcoming was nice and I am excited to get going.”
Roldan pointed out the differences in his game when compared to older brother and teammate Cristian, who has made a name for himself in three MLS seasons.
“I’m a number 8 box-to-box defender. I have an engine; I can run for quite some time and make some tackles.”
Expect to hear the names of this NPSL duo for many years to come. Talent, experience, and a solid foundation have given them the tools they need to be successful at the highest levels of the beautiful game.