CARSON, Calif. – Maybe Robbie Rogers was always meant to be a left back.
The veteran winger had never played on the backline, not really, until LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena gave him a look on the left four months ago. It seems pretty clear now, after some 14 appearances, that he's where he's supposed to be.
Rogers, 27, has been a revelation at left back, exhibiting hugely underrated defensive acumen while surging forward into the attack with greater success than when he was playing one spot father up the field.
His play there is one of the reasons the Galaxy, who are home Sunday against the New York Red Bulls (8:30 pm ET; ESPN2), are 13-2-6 in their last 21 games and have climbed even on points with Western Conference/Supporters' Shield leader Seattle with just five games to play.
“For me, he's been brilliant since he converted to left back,” LA captain Robbie Keane said after Rogers' finest performance this season, in last weekend's victory over FC Dallas. “He's a player who has grown in stature in that position. If you're looking at the best left backs in the league, certainly he's up there. There's no question about that.
“I'm sure if Mr. [Jurgen] Klinsmann was a very, very good manager and watching the games, there's no question [Rogers] should certainly be in the [US national team] squads. I don't know when the next game is, but he certainly should be looked at because he's been brilliant. That's how much he's been on, if I'm touting that he should be in the national team.”
Rogers, who in 2009-11 made 18 international appearances, six of them for Klinsmann, and was on the 30-man preliminary roster before the 2010 World Cup, said he hasn't heard a word from the US coach but that he doesn't “think about that stuff” and that “there's still a lot of season left, and I need to keep proving myself.”
The Yanks’ next game is Oct. 10 against Ecuador in East Hartford, Conn., Landon Donovan's farewell game.
Rogers played a little on the backline during the Beijing Olympics, stepping back to left back after Michael Orozco Fiscal was red carded early in the group finale against Nigeria. He also played there in training under former US national team coach Bob Bradley, but Arena started grooming him in May as LA struggled with veteran Todd Dunivant sidelined with an abdominal injury.
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Rogers played a little on the right in a June 1 draw with Chicago, then got his first time on the left a week later, going the distance in a tie with Chivas USA. He's made another 13 appearances at left back since, impressing all the while.
“This is definitely Robbie's best position,” Keane said. “He's got so much energy and so much quality, he can get back, he can defend, he's very hard to beat, but when he gets into the attacking half, he can cross the ball. I think he's really found his home.”
Arena agrees. He says Rogers “looks like a left back.”
“The thing about Robbie in that position,” Arena said, “is he's an excellent defender, which is the No. 1 box you need to check if you're going to play as a defender, and he does that exceptionally well. The other stuff going forward is just icing on the cake.”
Rogers said he's “happy I've been able to find a position that has helped this team and be able to contribute and find some success at it,” but he's still learning the nuances of the position.
“It's good to have someone like Todd and the other guys to help me with that,” he said. “[I need to work on] staying with the line, forcing attackers a certain way, making sure I track my runners. There's so many different things.
“… It's definitely the best place for me. I've really enjoyed myself, and I have a lot to learn, but I think it's come to me pretty naturally.”