On Oct. 1, 2017, Seattle Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan was subbed off in the 80th minute for Lamar Neagle in an eventual 2-0 loss at the Philadelphia Union. It took 372 days — a span of 38 consecutive MLS regular season and postseason matches — for Roldan to miss another minute of on-field action for the Rave Green.
On Monday, Roldan was replaced by his younger brother, Alex Roldan, in the 83rd minute, with the Sounders up 4-0 on the Houston Dynamo.
“I needed to get his brother on because his brother might play in Orlando because we’re short some guys,” Head Coach Brian Schmetzer said after the match. “I figured it might be a good time to have a little brotherly love and make him come off the field and hug and let his brother play a few minutes.”
While it was certainly a special moment for the “Broldans,” it also gave Cristian a well-deserved breather. Since the start of the 2016 season, Roldan has played in 108 of the club’s 110 matches, including the postseason. Last year, the 23-year-old midfielder missed a match due to his first U.S. men’s national team call-up that July – otherwise his substitution in Philadelphia was the only time he didn’t play during the entire campaign.
Heading into Monday’s match, Roldan was one of just five field players in MLS to play each minute of their club’s 2018 season. With seven minutes remaining, he was finally told to rest.
“Seriously, Cristian has logged a lot of miles for this club and there’s always times where you think you could take a couple minutes off him,” Schmetzer added. “There’s always injury risks and stuff like that, but he’s been durable. It’s a testament to that kid that he can play 90 every game. Midweek games, all that sort of stuff.”
In his fourth professional season, Roldan continues to show improvement and versatility. He has scored four goals to go along with eight assists (he had seven assists in the previous three years combined).
For the first half of the year, Roldan was predominately in the defensive midfield as Ozzie Alonso battled injuries and Gustav Svensson represented Sweden at FIFA World Cup. By the start of the Sounders’ record-setting nine-game winning streak, Roldan found himself pushed further up on the wing. And at times throughout the season, he’s even played right back and as the No. 10 in the attacking midfield.
“He does all the little things,” Schmetzer said. “We love the kid and we hope we get him wrapped up here so he can be here for a long time.”