Rogers signs with English Championship's Leeds United
AMSTERDAM — Robbie Rogers has joined Leeds United, the English Championship side announced on Wednesday, pending UK work permit approval. While the club has yet to divulge the contract length, MLSsoccer.com has learned the former Columbus Crew winger's deal will keep him at Elland Road until the summer of 2014.
The 24-year-old attacker is over the moon at the prospect of playing for the Whites, a storied club with three top-flight crowns, two domestic cup titles and two UEFA runners-up finishes to their credit.
"I am obviously extremely excited to be joining Leeds," Rogers told MLSsoccer.com from England on Wednesday. "I know that the work permit process will not be easy, but I am very hopeful. These next few weeks I will have to work extremely hard to get fit and hopefully make my first appearance at Elland Road very soon."
The Los Angeles-area native played five seasons for the Crew after arriving from Heerenveen in January of 2007, helping the team to victory at MLS Cup 2008. Including playoff matches, Rogers notched 15 goals and 16 assists in 115 games for Columbus.
"I have to thank the MLS and the Crew for helping me develop as a professional soccer player," declared Rogers. "I wish all by buddies in Columbus the best of luck this year."
Rogers does not meet the national team cap percentage required for automatic work permit approval, but a source told MLSsoccer.com that Leeds are somewhat confident the US international can win one on appeal. Though such hearings generally occur within a week of the signing, Leeds United manager Simon Grayson is already tapping his watch to get the American in uniform.
"We're delighted to have agreed a deal with Robbie," Grayson told the official club website. "As soon the work permit business is complete, he will be an immediate part of our plans."
Multiple sources indicated to MLSsoccer.com that, in the end, Leeds won the race for Rogers over an MLS team that is not Columbus and a mystery English club he secretly visited in December. The two-footed winger earlier rejected a return offer from the Crew, as well as interest from Blackburn and a club on the continent.
Upon work permit approval, Rogers will become the sixth American-born player to suit up for Leeds, following Mike Grella, Jemal Johnson, Eddie Lewis, Eric Lichaj and former England youth international Paul Rachubka.