Chicago Fire owner Andrew Hauptman and president of soccer operations Javier Leon have officially begun their push to bring Robbie Rogers to Chicago.
The former Columbus Crew star tweeted that he met with the LA-based duo on Tuesday and that the meeting went well, just days after he told a Dallas radio station that he has no intentions of playing for the Fire, who hold his MLS rights.
“Great meeting with the owner and president of Chicago today,” Rogers tweeted. “Genuine and amazing people.”
The Fire have made no secret that they'd like Rogers to play for them if he makes his expected comeback to MLS, but that scenario became increasingly unlikely when Rogers admitted he'd rather sit out the season than leave the comfort of Southern California, where he grew up.
Fire coach Frank Klopas, for one, can relate. He held out for almost a week in 1998 after he was traded from Kansas City to Columbus, all with an eye on finishing his career in his hometown of Chicago. He was hit with hefty fines by the league every day he didn't report to camp with the Crew until he was eventually dealt for Jason Farrell, who started 57 games for Columbus for the next three seasons.
“To me, when you grew up there and your family is there … I can understand,” Klopas said. “When it was toward the end of my career and I wanted to be in Chicago and finish my career, it didn't matter what I had to give up because I did give up a lot, my salary, to make it happen. So he's a younger player, he grew up there, he's got a family and a lot of friends, that's understandable.”
While the club's situation with Rogers has changed in recent days in light of his comments, the Fire still think they deserve equal value if they opt to make a deal with the Galaxy.
“For me and for us, it hasn't changed,” Klopas said. “He's a quality person and player. I've said it from the beginning, we got his rights because we want him to be part of our team. If that doesn't happen, we have to see what's in the best interest of the Chicago Fire. It has to be quality for the same quality.”