CARSON, Calif. — Coming off of his first game action in seven weeks, LA Galaxy midfielder Robbie Rogers hopes he will be ready to play in time for next week's clash with the Montreal Impact, while defender Leonardo should be ready if called upon after both players picked up valuable minutes in the Galaxy's 2-0 Reserve League victory Monday night over Chivas USA.
Rogers, who last played in a first-team game in the Aug. 20 CONCACAF Champions League opener against Cartaginés, toiled for 85 minutes on the Galaxy's right flank, struggling at first to make an impact but improving vastly as the game wore on.
“Gosh, I was exhausted after the first half,” said Rogers, who is coming off a difficult rehabilitation stint after tearing his left hamstring. “I'm just happy to get out here and play, just be on the field. I mean, it's been quite awhile [since I've played, and] I think it was a game for me to be running around. So just happy with 80 minutes; that's what I was most happy with.”
Rogers delivered three fine crosses that led to corner kicks and another that set up a scoring chance as the Galaxy won behind a Hector Jiménez penalty kick and gorgeous Jose Villarreal volley. For the Galaxy, the win clinched the best winning percentage in the West Division of the MLS Reserve League for the second straight season. But the chance to get minutes for Leonardo and Rogers, among others, was the most important outcome.
“I was surprised how long [Rogers] lasted in the game, because I would have thought the fitness would have been the biggest factor,” head coach Bruce Arena said. “But as the game went on, he got better. He still has a ways to go, but it was good to get him back on the field again.”
Rogers has targeted next Wednesday's game against Montreal for his return, but he learned against Chivas that there is a lot of ground to be covered first.
“I didn't know quite what to expect after being out for so long,” Rogers said. “I have a lot of improvement to do. Like I said, after the first 45, I was dead tired, so there's a lot of work to do.”
Leonardo has missed the last two games with adductor fatigue, which he first felt in the Sept. 21 draw with Seattle, then aggravated while booting a ball in Costa Rica before the Galaxy's Sept. 21 Champions League victory over Cartaginés. He and Greg Cochrane were a solid center-back pairing in the first half against Chivas.
“It was the first time I've actually trained or played with the group [since I was hurt],” the Brazilian defender said through a translator. “The last couple days, I've just trained off to the side doing individual work, so it was good to find out where I'm at, and I realized there are a couple things I need to work on. I'll take this week to work on those things.”
Leonardo was substituted at halftime, reserve coach Curt Onalfo said, because, “We wanted to be smart; bring him along slowly,” but Leonardo could have gone longer and should be available next week; the Galaxy are 5-2-4 on the year when he starts.
“He looked fine. He doesn't look like he's missed a step,” Arena said. “Psychologically, he's been a little bit hesitant, so it was good to get him out there. … I don't think he needs to get back to fitness. He's been playing for a long period of time. He should be ready to go.”