While Robbie Rogers’ new club has its own fish (and chips) to fry, the recovering American winger surely has hopes of reeling in his own prize as the English Championship campaign concludes.
Simply put: the man needs to mash the accelerator in his international pursuits.
We can’t say Rogers’ national team career is kaput. The man is just 24, after all. And he has long been a speedy winger of solid promise – which is why Rogers keeps getting national team run-outs despite limited evidence that he deserves ongoing opportunities.
It’s not that he’s a poor player. It’s just with Rogers, there’s a nagging and constant sense that so much more is possible, that you’re somehow never seeing the banner at a full unfurl. For all the apparent talent and jitterbug-quick feet, there’s always been more sizzle than steak. In 106 Columbus Crew matches, Rogers scored 13 times and assisted on 16 more. That’s piddly production from a midfielder ostensibly known for his attacking chops.
And while Rogers can regularly gain position for crosses, his centering efforts are far too frequently aimless or thoughtless. As such, these days of unrealized potential at Crew Stadium left Rogers branded to unflattering effect as more of a “track star” than a “soccer player.”
But perhaps this Leeds relocation can work as a career reset. He could certainly use it where Jurgen Klinsmann’s national team is concerned. Rogers did get into two matches during Klinsmann’s first month in charge last year, but the winger’s subsequent time has been limited to mop-up minutes in the USMNT’s 2011 finale, the splashy win over Slovenia.
How far is Rogers behind in the depth chart of U.S. wingers / outside midfielders? Only Klinsmann could say, of course. But if I could sneak into that Home Depot Center office of his, here’s what I’d probably see:
1. Landon Donovan
2. Clint Dempsey
3. Brek Shea
4. Tim Chandler
5. Fabian Johnson
6. Danny Williams
7. Robbie Rogers
The list gets a little muddled because Dempsey (better as a withdrawn striker) and Chandler (more often a fullback for Klinsmann) generally land elsewhere. Still, either can man the perimeter midfield positions and would surely rank ahead of Rogers in positional pecking order.
The list doesn’t even account for Stuart Holden, Bolton’s on-the-mend attacker who might soon (fingers crossed) figure somewhere into the midfield mix. For that matter, Michael Bradley and Benny Feilhaber can and have played wider roles, albeit tucked well inside to play to their strengths.
You start adding it up the names and it becomes clear that Rogers has more climbing to do than a Mount Everest Sherpa.