It should not come as any surprise at this point, but Alex Roldan confirmed on Tuesday that he will be representing El Salvador at the international level and that he’s planning to play in the Gold Cup.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to represent one of my parents’ countries,” Roldan said during an appearance on Sounders Weekly. “Little tough decision I have to do with selecting one or the other because both were asking for me to join. It’s a tough family decision we had to make. At the end of the day, it will benefit me.”
Roldan, like his brother Cristian, was potentially eligible to represent three nations. He was born in the United States, while his parents are from El Salvador and Guatemala. His parents’ countries had both recently made efforts to recruit Roldan. That El Salvador recently became one of the eight nations to qualify for the final round of Concacaf’s World Cup qualifying process was a significant part of the decision, but Roldan also suggested that fellow Salvadoran-American coach Hugo Perez better articulated a vision for how he’d be used.
“It was difficult,” Roldan said. “Your parents want you to make the best decision for yourself but also want to see their country represented.”
El Salvador begins Gold Cup play on July 10 against Curaçao, and is scheduled to leave the Sounders following their match against the Houston Dynamo on July 7. It’s at least possible that Roldan would only miss the July 18 match against Minnesota United, as that game is on the same day as El Salvador’s final group-stage match. On the other end of the spectrum, it’s at least possible that Roldan could miss four matches in July as well as their Aug. 4 match against FC Dallas, although that would require El Salvador to make an unprecedented run to the Gold Cup final.
For however games Roldan misses, the most likely replacement is Kelyn Rowe. Although Rowe has not ever started a match as a right back/wing back, he has played there late in games on several occasions for the Sounders and spent much of preseason training at that spot.
Potentially joining Alex at the Gold Cup is his brother Cristian, who is among those in contention to be named to the United States team. Their roster was initially due to be announced on Wednesday but was pushed back until Thursday. El Salvador will also face the United States in World Cup qualifying on Sept. 2.
“That will be a crazy experience, that’s for sure,” Alex Roldan said about the possibility of two brothers representing two teams at the Gold Cup. “I hope he does make it, I know he’s capable of making it. I wish him all the best. Hopefully, we both go and face each other.”