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Pico Rivera’s Christian Roldan Playing in World Cup

Alex and Cristian Roldan.

November 21, 2022

By Brian Hews

Last week Pico Rivera’s own Christian Roldan’s parents César and Ana Roldán,  immigrants from Central America, along with his two brothers, César Arnoldo, 30, and Álex, 26 got ready to fly to Doha, the capital of Qatar, to watch 27-year-old Christain play FIFA World Cup.

Roldan started playing soccer as a youth, and his talent was evident even then. In 2012-’13 while at El Rancho High in Pico Rivera, he won the Gatorade National Player of the Year award for scoring 54 goals.

Roldan learned his creative ball skills from watching tapes of Argentine star Maradona, who led his country to glory in the 1986 World Cup, and it was paying off.

Just a year later, while playing at a camp in San Diego, Roldan was recruited by the University of Washing and ended up enrolling at the Pac-12 school scoring ten goals and seven assists with the huskies before leaving early for Major League Soccer.

It was legendary coach Sigi Schmid, the late Sounders manager, who influenced Roldan’s selection in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft.

He signed with the Sounders, his current team, and immediately became a star. Just a few years later, Seattle won the MLS Cup; now Roldan is in Qatar.

Roldan could have played for either El Salvador, Guatemala or the United States. He chose the U.S. team, which offered better exposure and excellent playing facilities.

But up until the selection in November, he was not so sure.

Roldan underwent groin surgery in August for a sports hernia. He did not think he would return to help end the season with the Sounders let alone make the World Cup roster. 

But after a camp in Texas, U.S. Men’s Team Head Coach Gregg Berhalter was elated when he saw Roldan show his craftiness and speed.

Up and until selection day, the Roldan family felt very uneasy before Berhalter chose him. Roldan waited in Seattle, then on the morning of Nov. 6, he got the call that he had made the World Cup squad, reaching the ultimate soccer level in making the 26-player USMNT roster.

“I made it mommy!,” he told his mother Ana. “Dad, I could not have done it without both of you.”

The U.S. will open group play against Wales today at 11 a.m. PT in Al Rayyan. The top two finishers in a pool that includes Iran and England advance to the knockout stage that begins Dec. 3.