Cory Brown and Alex Roldan both received invites to the MLS Combine following impressive college careers.
“It’s a great feeling to be a part of all the people on the list,” Roldan said. “It’s going to be a pleasure to be able to compete alongside them.”
“When I first came over here (from New Zealand) that was my main goal, to be sure to get invited,” Brown said. “I’m looking forward to getting down there and starting my next chapter in football.”
Roldan, a central midfielder for Seattle University, is coming off his best season as a college player, where he recorded six goals and a team-high eight assists for the Redhawks. All in all, Roldan started in over 40 matches, recorded 18 goals and 17 assists and was named First Team All-WAC in both his junior and senior seasons. Overall, Roldan cherished his time with SU.
“It was a great experience,” Roldan said. “I was able to play with great players all four years and make a lot of connections so overall it was a good experience.”
Roldan spent time in the NPSL with Pac NW-OSA FC, where he helped them gain a victory in the U.S. Open Cup.
“It’s a great club under Fillipo (Milano), he’s a great coach and a great person,” Roldan said, “And I was glad to be able to help with their success in the Open Cup.”
Heading into the combine, Roldan wants to focus on playing the game and display his potential for improvement.
“My mentality going into the combine is to go out there and play my game,” Roldan said. “I’m just trying to show MLS coaches what hopefully they would want in a player and that I have room to grow.”
Alex’s older brother Cristian, is a midfielder for the Seattle Sounders and more recently a player called up for the U.S. Men’s National Team’s January camp.
For Alex, the chance to play against, or possibly with, his brother is a special one.
“There’s always pressure but it’s always been good pressure. I’ve always played alongside him, only played against him once in college, but either (playing against him) or (playing with him), would be great.”
While Alex Roldan spent his college career putting balls in the back of the net for Seattle, fellow NPSL alum Cory Brown kept shots out of it for Xavier.
“I enjoyed every aspect of it,” Brown said. “I loved my teammates and coaches and if I could go back and do it all again I would do the same thing.”
In his four years bolstering the Xavier backline, Brown made 80 appearances, helping the Musketeers record 31 shutouts over those 80 games. Brown also received All-Big East First Team honors in each of his final three seasons, and won Big East Defensive Player of the Year in his junior season, the first Musketeer to ever receive the honor.
In the summer before his stellar senior season, Brown was coming off an injury. He credits a summer in the NPSL with helping him get back to match fitness for the start of the college season.
“It was nice over the summer to get some games,” Brown said, “I was coming off an injury so it was great to play in games and practice every day, that was the nicest part.”
Brown has also made numerous appearances for the New Zealand U-17 and U-20 squads. In 2013, Brown represented New Zealand at the U-17 World Cup, where he started against Italy, Uruguay, and Ivory Coast. He also participated in New Zealand’s U-20 World Cup qualifying round in 2014. For Brown, who has a plethora of awards and honors from his college career, the highest honor he has ever received is the chance to represent his country.
“Representing your country is something you dream of doing…there’s nothing really higher than that,” Brown said. “And hopefully to get the chance to do it again someday.”
Brown is hoping to bring his wealth of experience, including his national team experience, with him to the next level and show his value as a defender and a competitor.
“The main thing (with me as a player) is competitiveness, no one likes to lose, but I really don’t like to lose,” Brown said with a laugh. “And at Xavier I really tried to bring my experience with the national team with me…I have experiences that hopefully follow me into professional football.”
Heading into the combine, Brown isn’t nervous, but is ready to show what he has.
“I would say I’m more anxious,” Brown said. “I’ve been training in Cincinnati so I’m just ready and excited to go down there and show what I’ve got.”
Roldan and Brown join four other former NPSL players in Orlando: Matias Pyysalo (UCF), Nate Shultz (Akron), Brandon Bye (Western Michigan), and Harry Cooksley (St. John’s). All are ready to prove their worth at the MLS Combine and make the entire NPSL proud.