Robbie Rogers resurrected his sputtering professional soccer career this year with a move to a previously unfamiliar left back position for the LA Galaxy, and on Thursday he was rewarded for his fine form and handed a long-term contract extension with the club, the Galaxy announced.
Rogers, who last year became the first openly gay pro athlete to compete in a major North American sports league — yes, MLS is “major” — made the transition to left back from a more attacking role as a left-sided winger, a position he played for most of his first six years as a pro.
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“We are excited that Robbie will remain a part of our organization going forward,” Galaxy head coach and general manager Bruce Arena said in a club release. “He has proven to be a dynamic player in our League and an integral part of our success this year. We look forward to his continued contributions in the years to come.”
While the position has changed, Rogers’ game has stayed very much the same as a left back. Always a solid defender while playing further up the field, Rogers has shown the capacity to defend on a full-time basis, learning on the fly the complexities of the position, while still feeling encouraged to use his speed and attacking instincts to make overlapping runs into the attacking half.
His 2014 performances have even caused some members of the American soccer media to wonder aloud, “What if this move had been made five or 10 years ago?” Of course, we will never know.
Rogers’ partnership up and down the left with soon-to-retire Landon Donovan has been a huge part of his — and the club’s — success this year, so perhaps next season when Donovan is gone will be most telling.