COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Robbie Rogers who took control of the first 10 minutes at Real Salt Lake this past Saturday is the one Columbus Crew coach Robert Warzycha expects to see every match.
RSL had no answers for the left midfielder’s speed and crosses that led to goals by Eddie Gaven and Tommy Heinemann for the 2-0 victory in Rio Tinto Stadium.
“I really wanted to test them and get after their defenders and cause some trouble for them,” Rogers said.
It was his most productive output since Aug. 8, 2009, when he had a goal and an assist in the second half against San Jose.
“He showed he can be the player he wants to be,” Warzycha said.
After earning Best XI honors in 2008 when the former University of Maryland star had six goals and three assists in 27 matches as the Crew won the MLS Cup, Rogers had only two goals and five assists in 42 games over the next two years.
This season, he has two goals and three assists in 17 games despite missing five matches while with on Gold Cup duty with the US national team.
It’s a critical juncture in his career at the club and country level. The 24-year-old was a frequent call-up by former US coach Bob Bradley, but he also has a long history with new coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
Rogers was with the Orange County (Calif.) Blue Star as a 16-year-old when Klinsmann trained and played for the amateur club for awhile. Rogers wears No. 18 for the Crew in honor of the former German World Cup champion.
The Los Angeles-area native is out of contract at the end of the year and earlier this season expressed displeasure to the Crew after being benched.
If Rogers feels he has a chance to be a part of World Cup qualifying over the next two years under Klinsmann, he might reconsider his goal of going overseas, understanding that playing time is at a premium for some Americans.
Rogers has an ally in Warzycha, so it’s not out of question he could return to Columbus next season and try to keep his starting spot. For now, Rogers is pleased the Crew (9-6-7, 34 points) has vaulted atop the Eastern Conference.
“We are a great team and we have a deep team as well,” he said. “I’m excited about the future.”
BY THE NUMBERS
4 - Road shutouts this season in 11 games, the same as 2010 in 15 games. The Crew had five away clean sheets in 2009 and four in 2008.
1 - Loss in 25 games (20-1-4) under Warzycha since 2009 when leading at the half; a 2-1 defeat at FC Dallas on June 20, 2009.