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Cristian Roldan will be out 4-6 weeks after groin surgery

Sounders had hoped to avoid surgery, but athletic pubalgia only seemed to be getting worse.

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

TUKWILA — Cristian Roldan has undergone successful groin surgery to repair an athletic pubalgia injury — more commonly known as a sports hernia — and will likely 4-6 weeks, the Seattle Sounders announced on Tuesday. The timeline for recovery should allow for Roldan to return before the end of the season.

Roldan has apparently been dealing with discomfort related to the injury for some time, but the team was hopeful that it could be managed through rest. After seeing three separate doctors, including two specialists while he was in Southern California for the Sounders’ game on Friday, it was determined that he would need surgery sooner or later.

It then became a question of timing. Pushing it back to the end of the season would effectively eliminate him from World Cup consideration, and after that, the Sounders are still planning to play in the Club World Cup. Doing it now keeps those in play while also potentially getting him back for the stretch run and possible playoffs.

“He just wasn’t getting any better; in fact, he was getting worse,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer told Sounder at Heart. “He’s talked to everybody and made a decision. I support the decision.

“It was a hard decision for the kid. I felt bad for him because he’s been so resilient. I really think he was going back and forth.”

Over the years, Roldan has been one of the Sounders’ most-used and least-injured players since establishing himself as a regular starter in 2016. Since then, Roldan has logged more than 21,000 minutes for the Sounders (an average of more than 3,000 minutes per season). He’s also played more than 1,100 minutes for the United States National Team since 2019, adding another 400 or so minutes to each of those seasons. For reference, playing 90 minutes in all 34 games during the regular season would be 3,060 minutes.

Roldan’s 2022 started off in similar fashion, getting only about a month off after the Sounders were eliminated from the MLS playoffs before being called into a USMNT friendly in December and then getting about another month off before World Cup-qualifying camp. The Sounders’ season kicked off in February when they opened Concacaf Champions League play, with Roldan playing a leading role in helping secure that title. Roldan led all players in CCL with five assists, while also scoring a goal.

During MLS play Roldan started off nearly as strong, with three goals and five assists in his first 15 appearances. Roldan has just one goal in his past eight appearances and was removed from the Sounders’ 2-1 loss against RSL in the 77th minute, the first time he didn’t finish a league match he started this year.

Replacing Roldan will be no easy task — his five goals and 10 assists in all competitions both rank among team leaders. The Sounders switched to a 3-5-2 in their first game without Roldan, with Jordan Morris moving up to forward and Kelyn Rowe slotting in at left back. If Schmetzer decides to move back to a 4-2-3-1, Léo Chú, Jimmy Medranda, Rowe and Dylan Teves are some of the options. The Sounders can also still sign a free agent or someone from the Tacoma Defiance, but a source indicated that Roldan’s injury does not effectively change the roster calculus: the team continues to search for someone who offers an upgrade over the current options while not requiring a significant salary or long-term contract.

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