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Cristian Roldan could return ahead of schedule

Brian Schmetzer says Roldan will “probably” feature against FC Cincinnati.

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

Cristian Roldan could return from groin surgery a little ahead of schedule.

“There’s a little bit of hope on the horizon,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer told KJR on Tuesday. “He’s probably going to see some time against FC Cincinnati.”

Following Wednesday’s training session, Schmetzer followed it with a slight caveat.

“As long as he doesn’t have any setbacks, he’ll be able to play some minutes,” Schmetzer said, adding it’s more of a pain and discomfort threshold issue than one centered around concerns over reinjury. “He’s done that well. He looks good.”

If Roldan were to play against FC Cincinnati on Sept. 27 — as close to a literal must-win game the Sounders have played this regular-season — that would be a game earlier than had originally been planned. Roldan has missed the Sounders’ last six games — in which they’ve gone 2-3-1 — since being diagnosed with an athletic pubalgia injury. Schmetzer previously suggested Roldan had been dealing with discomfort for some time before the formal diagnosis.

Roldan started off 2022 in some of his best-ever form. He led Concacaf Champions League with five assists while adding a goal. In MLS play, he had three goals and five assists in his first 15 matches but has scored just one goal in eight appearances since then.

All of this is playing out while Cristian Roldan is also trying to make a final push for the United States’ World Cup roster, something that was dealt a bit of a blow after injury kept him out of this current training camp.

“I know he wants to play,” Schmetzer said. “He wants to have some games under his belt in case he gets selected for the World Cup.”

If Roldan can return to anything close to his early-season form, that would potentially be a boon for the Sounders, who will be quite short-handed against FC Cincinnati. Jordan Morris (United States), Xavier Arreaga (Ecuador), Nouhou (Cameroon) and Nicolas Lodeiro (yellow-card suspension) are all out for that match. Alex Roldán (El Salvador) and Raúl Ruidíaz (Peru) are still questionable, as Schmetzer said the Sounders are working with the respective federations on a possible early release. Albert Rusnák was apparently not called into Slovakia for their UEFA Nations League matches and will be available for FC Cincinnati.

“I’m confident, I’m upbeat,” Schmetzer said about potentially having Roldán and Ruidíaz for the FCC match. “Both El Salvador and Peru know the importance of our match. We’ll just try to reiterate that and see where their decision comes in.

“It’s always the player’s final decision. But if you snub your nose at your national team, chances are you won’t make it back. Respectful conversions have to happen. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

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