CARSON, Calif. – Robbie Rogers continues to push forward with the LA Galaxy, but the pace of his advancement isn't quite what's expected, and his absence on the weekend was meant as a message.
The veteran winger, who joined the Galaxy in late May after nearly half a year away from the field, wasn't on the 18-man roster for Sunday's 3-3 draw at FC Dallas. He had started six straight games before a hamstring injury forced him out of LA's previous two league matches but returned to the field during the International Champions Cup, getting starts against Juventus and AC Milan.
Head coach Bruce Arena has nothing to say about it, just that it was “my decision not to have him in the 18” and that he “thought the players we dressed were the right choices for that game,” but Rogers knows he has work to do.
“I thought I played pretty well against Juventus and Real Madrid, and the AC Milan game wasn't my best game, and I think that Bruce just wanted me to kind of refocus and think about those games I did well in,” Rogers said after the Galaxy returned to training Tuesday. “I think he just wanted to switch things around a bit.”
Associate head coach Dave Sarachan made it clear what the decision meant.
“It's always a message,” Sarachan said. “It should be with every player when they're not included.”
Sarachan said the Galaxy want more than what they've seen from Rogers, who has US national team experience and was one of MLS' best wingers when he played in Columbus.
“We've built a strong roster, and there's competition, and some guys have sort of moved up the ladder a little bit,” Sarachan said. “Robbie is moving, maybe not quite to the speed we and he would feel comfortable with ... Robbie, he knows that everything needs to improve a little bit – speed, speed of play, the ability to get at players, getting crosses in – and it's a work in progress. We're confident Robbie will get there.”
Rogers says he needs to focus on getting “a little sharper in the final third, and it comes, definitely, with being confident. Sometimes I feel great. In the Juventus game, I played 81 minutes and felt great, but I need to do that all the time.”
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Arena talked to Rogers before the Dallas game, mostly about his performance against AC Milan and, Rogers said, “focusing on different things. Nothing really that big. Little things.”
He heads into this week and preparations for Saturday night's StubHub Center showdown against Supporters' Shield leaders Real Salt Lake (10:30 pm ET, watch on MLS Live) with something to prove.
“You always feel that way as a professional, but you don't want to be left out of the 18, no matter what, whatever the reason is,” Rogers said. “So definitely you do your best. You can't control some things, but you work your ass off.”