Robbie Rogers: the Counterpoint

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Robbie Rogers has stepped out of the closet. The world has sung his praises. Retweets. Blog posts. Columns. Articles. Everybody is on cloud nine…except for me. I’m all for Rogers’ honesty with himself, his family, his friends, and others. However, the announcement was not all roses.

At least not the second part.

For folks unfamiliar with MLS and the USMNT, Rogers was once upon a time a very promising wide midfielder. He could run like the wind, whip in a mean cross, and played a bit of defense. He signed for Dutch club Heerenveen, never made a mark, returned to the US, was a key contributor to the then-successful Columbus Crew for four years, and, of course, eventually his second shot at Europe came.

And went. It appears. Rogers let his contract with the Crew expire and signed for Leeds United, a club in the second division of England. Many other MLS all-stars, including Kenny Cooper and Robbie Findley, have fled to lower-tiers of European leagues in search of superior paychecks. Both returned to MLS after a few years. Eddie Johnson followed a similar trajectory. So did Freddy Adu.

Rogers appeared to ride on a similar track: Leeds loaned him to a third division side, never a good sign. Then, according to the announcement, by “mutual consent” he and Leeds ended their agreement. Translation: the club believed they could not sell him for anything and his wages were too high. Robbie was sick of no playing time and wanted out. This same prisoner’s dilemma has led to protracted and stalled deals in other cases (read: Freddy Adu). However, RR was able to leave.

But to where? More importantly, at what stage do our political leanings shade over our concern as fans? I wanted Rogers to succeed, to offer a genuinely athletic traditional winger (run and cross) option to the US attack. Instead, it seems like, if he does play, he’ll tuck in his tail and return to the states. Another pedestrian toiling on the Feilhaber trail of tears – too talented (and pricey) for the MLS salary cup, but just not good enough for Europe.

Thus, I’m disappointed in the Rogers’ announcement. Yes, congrats on being true to yourself and others. That was brave. But please….start producing the goods on the field again.

5 thoughts on “Robbie Rogers: the Counterpoint

  1. Didn’t Robbie Rogers suffer a rather nasty concussion while he was at Leeds? Is it possible that this injury was severe enough to force him into retirement? That was certainly the case for Taylor Twellman. Let’s not just assume he’s another “failed American” here and push him out onto the pitch if he’s still trying to cope with the after-effects of a brain injury. The last thing American soccer needs right now is a Junior Seau.

    • That’s certainly a fair point about his injury at Leeds – I’m not sure he’d have gone on to play as a third division side if it was severe, but I do hope he’s well and hope health problems are not the cause of this.

      I also object to the “failed American” term. I still love Freddy Adu, Eddie Johnson, and all the other guys who just summered in Europe rather than making it their home.

      The Twellman reference is puzzling – the Revolution actually axed any offer/chance for him to go to England. He didn’t suffer a concussion until the tail end of his career. I think Alecko Eskandarian would be a more apt comparison.

  2. Well he did retire and all with the announcement. If he does come back is it better to not play or to “turn tail and run back to America”. Let him regroup with his career, MLS is a good option for that. As for the Nats we have better options unless you just want speed. Let him be

  3. I hope that he doesn’t completely turn away from football. He should study for the coaching badges and get back into the game that way.