CARSON, Calif. – Robbie Rogers began his career as a left back a little over a year ago, and the converted midfielder readily admits that he still has plenty to learn about playing as a defender.
Following a Best XI-caliber showing down the stretch in 2014 that saw him earn consideration from the U.S. National Team, Rogers has seen his form dip this season, even committing some uncharacteristic critical errors at important moments for the Galaxy.
Whether it was keeping Fenando Adi onside against Portland, losing Houston’s Nathan Sturgis in the penalty area on a set piece or allowing D.C. United’s Nick DeLeon to use an impressive bit of skill to assist on United’s winner last week, defensive lapses, rather than his typically barnstorming bursts forward, have defined Rogers’ season to date.
“It’s been a little weird. There have been moments where my decision making hasn’t been as good as I want to be,” Rogers told reporters on Tuesday. “It’s been a little frustrating because [they are] little mistakes that make a big difference and I’m just not used to them happening in a row like that. It’s a little disheartening because I work so hard.”
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena is quick to note that Rogers is still in the midst of his transition to a position where every mistake is not only magnified, but could be the difference between a victory and defeat.
“He’s been inconsistent [and] he’s got to be steadier than he’s shown,” Arena said. “You still have to accept the fact that he’s played this position for a little over a year so there is still a learning curve to it.
“It’s about being more consistent on both sides of the ball. Defensively, if you make a mistake as a back then everyone knows, then all the experts come out. As an attacking player, it’s not as obvious. You have to be pretty consistent and solid in those positions.”
As rough as this recent three-game stretch has been, Rogers is staying positive.
Rogers says he’s looking for little ways to improve his performance, like spending a little time in the film room to sharpen his decision making or attempting to use his athleticism to make up for small defensive missteps.
If those mistakes are fixed, Rogers is confident that he can rediscover the form that made him such a success in 2014.
“At the top levels if you make a mistake then it’ll be punished,” Rogers said. “I just need to step back and learn from these mistakes and progress going forward … Like with a lot of things in life, people have success and then think, ‘oh well, I’m done [learning].’ There are growing pains and ups and downs. You just have to learn from the negatives and turn them into positives.”