LOS ANGELES — It’s a homecoming for the Broldans.
Seattle Sounders All-Star duo Cristian and Alex Roldan are back in their hometown of Los Angeles for the 2021 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target on Wednesday at Banc of California Stadium (9 pm ET | FS1, Univision in US; TSN, TVA Sports in Canada), a surreal moment.
And they get to do it together. What could be better?
“Being able to come here and be part of our first All-Star Game as brothers, in our hometown, is something special,” Cristian told media from the Banc of California Stadium on Tuesday.
About 15 miles East of the stadium, the Roldans had legendary stints at El Rancho High School.
Cristian was named 2013 Gatorade National Boys Soccer Player of the Year after piling on 54 goals and 31 assists his senior year (85 goal contributions!!!) as the pair led El Rancho to a state title.
Alex, one year younger, was named league MVP during his senior year after Cristian departed for the University of Washington, where he embarked on a standout collegiate career. Alex followed North and excelled at Seattle University. The 25-year-old is among MLS’s breakout players this season and one of the most pleasant surprises as the midfielder-turned-wingback went from roster filler to among the best in the league at his new position. He's made 17 starts for the Sounders this season and earned a call-up to the El Salvador national team for the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup, where he scored in his international debut.
Cristian, meanwhile, is also enjoying a career year. A longtime key member of the Sounders, he's taken his game to another level, helping lead the club in their stellar first half of the season despite a number of injuries to key players and featuring for the US men's national team at the Gold Cup. This is also his first All-Star Game.
To boot, he was voted All-Star captain.
“Cristian has been named captain, which is really well-earned given the season he’s had and the season Seattle have had,” head coach Bob Bradley said. “I’ll rely on him to make sure that (balance between intensity and fun) is right. When you have players like this who want to show what they’re all about, that means it’ll be real competition done in the right way.”
“In terms of enjoying this and finding the right moments to have fun and also be serious is something I’m going to enjoy,” Cristian said. “Getting to know some of the better players in the league, after seeing them every week on TV and understanding their game, then bringing it to the field is something I’m going to enjoy. Playing alongside them, playing to their strengths, we’re going to anticipate doing."
This year marks a new era of the All-Star Game, as the MLS All-Stars are facing the Liga MX All-Stars. As the rival leagues continue to ratchet up their partnership and competitions, both sides will hope to win this first encounter.
“Gathering the best of the league and making a team is pretty special, it doesn’t happen very often,” Cristian said. “You want to be part of history. Being part of this All-Star Game, playing against another league’s All-Star team, is unheard of. It’s going to be a special event.”