CARSON, Calif. – Robbie Rogers grinded through a difficult first season with the LA Galaxy after returning from a brief retirement last spring, and he knows he has much to prove heading into the coming year.
He's excited for the opportunity to do that, to show the team – and their vocal fan base – that he can be impactful as the Galaxy, too, seek to better their 2013 performance.
“I think I need to make a statement,” said Rogers, who is battling for a starting job on one of the wings. “I think our team needs to make a statement. I think, you know, we're a great team, and last year, I know it wasn't our best season, but I still felt like we could have won it.
“I felt like when we played [Real] Salt Lake [in the playoffs], give them credit for doing well, but I really felt like we didn't live up to our potential, so I think we just need to focus on the season, having a great start and having a positive season.”
This is an important year for Rogers, who was on the US national team's preliminary roster for the 2010 World Cup and wants to find the form that made him one of MLS' best wingers when he played for Columbus.
“I think it's important. I think it's an important year for a lot of guys, not just Robbie, but I think a lot of players,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “Robbie's had an outstanding preseason to date. I feel good about that.”
Rogers had been off the field for nearly half a year when he started training in late April last year with the Galaxy and was still in preseason mode when he debuted at the end of May. Struggles to find fitness and form, exasperated by repeated injuries, prevented him from showing his best game.
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He made 11 MLS regular-season appearances, seven of them starts, started in both playoff games, and made appearances in a US Open Cup match, two CONCACAF Champions League games, three August friendlies and two MLS Reserve League games. He had one assist, in a July victory over FC Dallas.
“I think in the beginning of the season, it was very much overwhelming, and then I had a number of injuries,” he said. “And after that I was coming in here every day and training, I was able to get some proper consecutive weeks of training in, and I started to feel better.
“I feel really great right now. I feel more like this is my home now, and I feel comfortable. I'm excited how [preseason has begun], and I hope to keep improving.”