When the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup group stage kicks off on July 10, it will be a very Roldan affair. Seattle Sounders midfielder Cristian has 20 career caps for the United States and was called into Gregg Berhalter’s 23-man side. He will be joined in the tournament by his younger brother Alex, who earned his first international call-up with El Salvador.
“[Alex’s] game is being recognized internationally,” said Cristian. “He’s wanted by a couple countries, and that’s always a good sign.”
The Roldan brothers were born in southern California to a Guatemalan father and Salvadoran mother. Alex reportedly had turned down a previous call-up from Guatemala, but has accepted an opportunity to join an El Salvador side coached by Hugo Pérez, a Salvadoran by birth but United States nationalized.
He earned over 70 caps for the United States including being a part of the 1994 FIFA World Cup squad.
“I’ve had communication with the team,” said Alex. “So far, I’ve spoken with [Pérez] a few times, and he’s spoken about the plan that he has and the players that he’s bringing in for the tournament. It’ll be a competitive group, and we’re looking forward to competing with some big teams.
“I’ve done some research [on the players on the team],” he continued. “[Pérez] has brought in some players who have nationality through their parents just like me. With some of those players coming in from different MLS teams and all over the world, I think we’ll be a strong group moving forward and hopefully we build some good chemistry in the weeks that we’re there.”
Roldan is one of three MLS players on the Salvadoran roster, joining Toronto FC’s Eriq Zavaleta and the Houston Dynamo’s Darwin Cerén. El Salvador will compete in Group A with Mexico, Curaçao and the winner of a preliminary knockout round between Trinidad and Tobago, Montserrat, Cuba and French Guiana.
The younger Roldan noted his own versatility and likened it to his brother’s in how he can help La Selecta, and Alex has certainly earned it. Since moving to right wingback in Sounders Head Coach Brian Schmetzer’s new 3-5-2 formation, he has recorded two assists and evolved into one of the league’s best crossers.
And despite the potential to play against against one another at some point down the line, Cristian has all the support for Alex.
“I’m happy for Alex, I’m happy for him to be able to compete at the international level,” Cristian said. “It’s another step, and I think he’ll see that in the coming weeks. I expect him to play his role in the team and do extremely well."