COLUMBUS, Ohio – Robbie Rogers is returning to his old stomping grounds on Saturday when the LA Galaxy take on the Columbus Crew.
Rogers spent the first five years of his MLS career in Columbus making 138 appearances and scoring 17 goals while playing a vital role in the most successful period in club history.
During his tenure with the Crew, the 2008 MLS Best XI selection helped lead Columbus to an MLS Cup in 2008 as well as successive Supporters’ Shields in 2008 and 2009 before departing for England two years later.
“It feels a little weird because this is my first time back in Columbus [since I returned to MLS],” Rogers told LAGalaxy.com on Friday. “Last night, I took some guys to the Short North [neighborhood] to some of the old restaurants that I used to go to by my old apartment. It’s nice to be back and it’s interesting because the team is very different.
“I have so many fond memories playing at Crew Stadium and it’s interesting that now I hope to have the same experience, but as a member of a different team,” he added. “It’ll be weird, but all guys go back to old teams and deal with this experience.”
After a slow start to his Galaxy tenure, Rogers found his stride in an LA uniform after transitioning from the midfield to left back in June. In eight appearances as an outside back, the 27-year-old has become a valuable offensive option for the Galaxy while also developing into a solid defender.
Rogers is likely to play a significant role in LA’s strategy to take three points from the Crew as the Gregg Berhalter-led team often seeks to throw numbers forward from wide positions which could create space when the left back presses forward in transition.
“If they push their full backs up as much as they have in past games then we’re going to have to attack them and get at them quickly,” said Rogers. “With our speed and numbers going forward, it could be very dangerous for them to play that way.”
Joining Rogers in the attack will be right back Dan Gargan, who has also enjoyed a strong first half of the season. In recent weeks, the pair has been instrumental in assisting the Galaxy attack and on Saturday; they expect to play a significant role in LA’s ability to counter an offensively minded Columbus team.
“We both feel really comfortable going forward and there’s still some stuff for us to work on in terms of our balance, but we both like getting up and getting into the attack. That happens in every game though, so I wouldn’t expect this one to be any different,” said Gargan. “It’s going to be an interesting matchup for us. They like to throw a lot of numbers into the attack and we like to as well. It’ll be important for us to maintain a good shape defensively and pick our spot where we can go at them.”
And if Rogers and the rest of the Galaxy can be successful, the LA left back might get exactly what he wants out of his Ohio homecoming: three points.
“I’m sure when I get to the stadium tomorrow; it’ll be very different because I’ll be coming to the stadium trying to get three points from the Crew,” said Rogers. “This is a big game for us because we have two games in a row and the first one sets the tone for the road trip. It may be weird [to return to Columbus], but once the whistle blows, I’ll forget about it.”