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Cristian Roldan reflects on ‘different role’ within USMNT at 2022 World Cup

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Many were shocked when Cristian Roldan made the United States men’s national team 26-player roster for the World Cup. 

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Though the Seattle Sounders player featured in the World Cup qualifiers and several friendlies in the months leading up to the international tournament, he remained seen as an occasional substitute.

On November 9, head coach Gregg Berhalter announced the squad headed for Qatar, shockingly omitting Paul Arriola, Ricardo Pepi and Jordan Pefok and opting instead for the likes of Jordan Morris and Roldan. 

But despite getting a ticket for the coveted international competition, the Seattle star knew his place. He did not need a talk with Berhalter about a potential ‘limited role’ in Qatar to assume his position. 

“No, I didn’t have a conversation with Gregg Berhalter about my role in Qatar before the World Cup. But I felt like I knew what I was going into, but things change, Roldan said in an interview with 90min.

“Who knows, if i had shown up playing really really really well I could’ve possibly had a bigger role in the team. But things change, and the most important thing for me was to be on that roster and on that plane to Qatar.

“My role was a little different than a lot of players, I didn’t get to see the field. But at the same time I felt like a big part of the team. Being there, in itself, was a dream of mine. So, to be able to be out there in Qatar and go through what we went through was really special. We had a great squad, I felt like we left it all out there and that was the most important thing.”

He failed to feature in any of the group stage matches, or the Round of 16 face off against the Netherlands. Roldan, instead, played a supportive part, inspiring players in the locker room and making an emotional impact from the sidelines. 

“It’s a role that may often get overlooked, because we have such good players on the field, and they are playing their heart out. But it’s great to hear that my role, of who I am as a person, brings a lot of impact to the team. I am happy to feel I did my part. The team is full of amazing human beings, I am just glad we were able to experience that together,” he added. 

The USMNT started a new World Cup cycle in 2023, with several friendlies and Concacaf tournaments slated to give Roldan another opportunity to reach the world stage. Though he did not form part of the January camp, the Seattle Sounders player is focused on performing well at the FIFA Club World Cup to retain the attention of the USMNT officials.

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