First things first as we analyze the Galaxy’s side of Friday’s talker of a trade, the MLS swap that brings winger Robbie Rogers to the Galaxy in exchange for Mike Magee, an unlikely league scoring leader in 2013:
The question that most needs asking is whether the Galaxy get a version of Rogers that looked more like the fleet left winger who worked the touchlines to good effect for most of his time in Columbus? Or do they get the deflated version, the one whose personal struggles came so close to driving him out of the professional game?
For now, we’ll assume Rogers is going to find his way and once again make good use of the speed and technique that made him a U.S. international. (Don’t forget, he will always be the answer to the trivia query, “Who scored the very first U.S. goal under Jurgen Klinsmann?”)
Rogers will not replace the goals that Magee takes with him to Chicago. Just not going to happen. He scored just four goals in his last three seasons at Crew Stadium.
Rogers was always a set-up man in Columbus, someone who could run at defenders and create space for others by occupying the outside backs, forcing them to respect his speed and thereby stretching defenses horizontally and vertically.
Rogers’ crossing was always just so-so, but the threat he posed was always useful – all of which is why Leeds was happy to bring him over in January of 2012, even though things just didn’t work out for Rogers with the famed English club.
The Galaxy, good as Bruce Arena’s team has done this year, are missing something in 2013: minus David Beckham’s pinpoint passing over distance, defenses have figured out that they can compact the field to greater effect. Without the threat of Beckham pinging balls so accurately in behind the back line, they can cheat forward more aggressively, closing passing lanes and limited midfield space as they do.
Other than Landon Donovan, who is still getting his legs beneath him, the Galaxy does miss some pace in the attacking positions.
Well, Rogers has pace. Always has.
His presence on the left could force defenders to retreat a bit, to back out of the midfield faster, all of which creates operating space for Juninho or Donovan or whomever has the ball in L.A.’s midfield.
Plus, Rogers’ speed adds to the Galaxy’s counter-attack, among the champions’ top weapons when they get into the flow of it.
The other side, the “con” aspect of it looks like this: Donovan and Keane will miss matches this summer, no doubt. Both will be on international duty at some point, Donovan for the United States and Keane for Ireland.
Simply put, Arena’s team will sorely miss Magee’s ability near goal. Rogers may be around to stretch defenses and to shape some crosses from the left, but who will be there to get on the end of them?