World Cup Qualifiers always carry extra significance.
Every country brings together its best soccer players and goes through a grueling, arduous competition to try and secure limited spots in the world’s premier soccer event. With so much on the line, each match is always filled with pressure and special moments.
To represent one’s country on such a massive stage is a lifelong dream for most soccer players. For Alex and Cristian Roldan, the World Cup Qualifier between El Salvador and the United States at a raucous Estadio Cuscatlán in San Salvador held even more gravity as the brothers faced off with their respective national teams.
“It was extra special playing against him in a professional setting, an international setting in a World Cup Qualifier,” Cristian said on Friday. “I thought he was probably the best player on the field, to be honest. He was really good for El Salvador. It was extra special seeing him at left back knowing I was going to play at right back.”
The two sides battled to a draw in the opening match of their respective qualifying campaigns.
Alex started the game for the hosts, putting in a two-way shift and keying some of El Salvador’s best sequences on the night. Cristian entered the match in the 78th minute as a right-sided substitute, soon after his brother had shifted over to left back.
From games in the yard growing up to battles during their college days, the Roldan brothers have faced off countless times throughout their lives. But to going directly head-to-head in a World Cup Qualifier for their respective national teams provided an immense sense of pride for the siblings.
“It was a great moment for not just us playing against each other really in a competitive environment, but for the family being there and the fans watching,” said Alex. That’s just something written in a book – a dream that you can have. Excited for that moment and excited for hopefully the next time we play as well to have more moments like that.”
After being informed that Cristian had called him the best player on the field for both teams that day, Alex was quick to praise his older brother for his role in helping him be in a position to make the most of his opportunity.
“It means a lot,” reflected Alex. “Like I’ve said multiple times before, he’s my role model. He’s the reason why i’m having the the year that I’m having, and I’m having this career that’s starting to finally go in the direction that I’ve always wanted it to go. He’s been there for me through the good times and the bad times.”
After the game, the two brothers participate in the traditional jersey swap. It was the icing on the cake for a day they will look back upon fondly for the rest of their lives.
“I think one day I want to frame all of the jerseys and put them up in my home,” said Cristian. “That’s going to be one of my first jerseys to put up for sure.”