Seattle midfielder Cristian Roldan’s successful appeal of a red card received last weekend did more than keep him on the field Saturday against Minnesota United.
It also allowed him to play against former teammate Ozzie Alonso, United’s defensive midfielder whom Roldan calls “really a mentor of mine.”
The two played together for four seasons and now are opponents. A rising star at age 23, Roldan on Saturday used against his friend all he has learned from Alonso, who received hugs from former teammates before the game. Roldan scored Seattle’s only goal Saturday on an equalizer late in the first half.
Roldan was a teenage attacking wing when he entered MLS from University of Washington. Similar in body type and height to Alonso, Roldan watched and learned as he turned himself into a central playmaker who played closer to Alonso in the midfield.
“It was out of left field when I had to play a little deeper,” Roldan told reporters after a training session. “For me, it was really interesting to see how Ozzie played and the way he used his body. I watched him quite a bit. I saw his habits in training. So much of his game has been brought to mine.”
Roldan has taken some of Alonso’s grit and ability to advance the ball.
“People don’t realize how good he is on the ball,” Roldan said. “His ability to dribble out of pressure is tremendous. I still watch him and implement that into my game because if you can dribble out of pressure, although a bit risky, instead of passing out, it can pay off big time. We played well together because I was able to cover ground and Ozzie was able to stay put.”
Quintero off the bench
United midfielders Ethan Finlay and Miguel Ibarra moved back into the starting lineup Saturday, with Darwin Quintero in a sub’s role on his way back from an ankle injury suffered last week against D.C. United. Striker Abu Danladi was not in top 18.
Seattle defender Saad Abdul-Salaam started for suspended Kelvin Leerdam while midfielder Víctor Rodríguez (concussion) and defender Chad Marshall (knee) returned from injury to the starting 11. Midfielder Gustav Svensson was out with a hamstring strain.
Ibarra spoke with friend and teammate Francisco Calvo Thursday night, when team management was finalizing Friday’s trade that sent Calvo to Chicago for allocation money.
“He’s happy,” Ibarra said. “He said it’s probably better for us. He needed something different, so him going to Chicago, it’ll be good for him.”
Batman in the back
With Calvo gone, United still has options at left back: Eric Miller started his third consecutive game there Saturday. Rookie Chase Gasper is just about back from a hamstring injury. Center back Michael Boxall has played there in international play and so has Ibarra, both in Mexico and briefly last season when United played a five-man back line.
“One hundred percent I can play that position,” Ibarra said.
The Loons’ Ike Opara, a former Sporting KC player, when asked if he has dates for the two Kansas City games memorized:
“I just know it’s sometime in August and sometime the end of September.”
United plays at Kansas City on Aug. 22, Sporting comes to Allianz Field on Sept. 25.