COLUMBUS, Ohio — Emilio Rentería and Robbie Rogers aren’t just linked by the binding of the Crew’s media guide, where their biographies appear side by side. They’re linked on the field as well.
For the second game in a row, the rejuvenated Rogers set up a goal by the recovering Rentería, this time helping Columbus (11-7-7) defeat Philadelphia 2-1 on Saturday to maintain a hold on the Eastern Conference lead.
Rogers’ four assists in his last four games give him five for the season, matching his 2009 career high after not getting any in 20 matches last year.
His latest dish was a cross from the left corner that Rentería was able to twist his body around and redirect into the net. It was the Venezuelan’s sixth goal in 11 games.
“We always talk about the final pass and that kind of pass, finally, finally came at the right moment,” coach Robert Warzycha said. “Hopefully [Rogers] is going to have more assists as the season goes on.”
In the previous match, a 3-1 win over New England, Rogers was on the right flank and found Rentería in front of the Revs’ goal. That score marked Rentería’s return after missing 12 of the previous 13 games because of injury.
“It has been hard to be out for almost a month-and-a-half, and I am working hard to regain my fitness,” Rentería said.
Rogers also had two assists vs. Real Salt Lake on July 30 and looks reenergized after a disappointing stint with the US squad at the Gold Cup. He played 45 minutes in a tune-up against Spain on June 4 but did not see the field again in the tournament under coach Bob Bradley.
“I felt I really got to refocus myself after the Gold Cup,” Rogers said. “I didn’t play for a month. Even though I was training, it was a different role I had on that team.”
His efforts with the Crew upon his return were rewarded with a late injury replacement call-up by new US coach Jurgen Klinsmann for the Mexico friendly on August 10. Rogers came off the bench to score the tying goal.
“His game is going to mature,” Warzycha said. “It’s about time for Robbie to step up and make a difference. He’s taking his opportunity.”
Rogers also made the most of Rentería and Andrés Mendoza, the Crew's leading scorer with eight goals, starting together for the first time this season in the Philly game. The pair gave the Crew a different dynamic.
Mendoza had more space to operate and his lay off from the top of the penalty area to Rogers advanced the play that led to Rentería’s goal. Because Mendoza drew the attention of the defense after his pass, Rentería was able to make a sharp run as Rogers sent the ball toward goal.
“I thought the overall passing was great,” Rogers said. “The more [Rentería and Mendoza] play together, the more chemistry they will find and they will become more comfortable with each other.”