Robbie Rogers hasn't been called up to the United States national team since 2012. Back then, he was a winger, but he has spent the last few months playing left back for the LA Galaxy, and it is there that he may make his return to the Yanks.
The Galaxy suffered a rash of injuries to their fullbacks, forcing Rogers to defense, and he's been very good ever since making the move. That was on display Saturday, when he played one of his best matches yet in the Galaxy's 2-1 win over FC Dallas, and his teammates noticed.
"If (U.S. national team coach Jurgen) Klinsmann is watching the games no question he should be looked at," Robbie Keane told LAGalaxy.com. "He’s been brilliant. That’s how much he’s come on."
It's not really a surprise that Rogers has adjusted well to left back. Some thought that he should have played that position from the start of his professional carer because he fits the profile pretty perfectly. He is left-footed, dynamic getting forward, capable of hitting a good cross and pretty sturdy, allowing him to defend well.
But while Rogers has the physical tools necessary to defend well, it takes some time to learn how to defend. He's coming along, though, and starting to look the part of defender.
"I can’t remember a game where I had that many opportunities to run forward because he did such a good job behind me," said Landon Donovan. "He picked off a lot of passes, he defended well, he got the ball to me in really good spots and it made a difference."
Rogers still has a ways to go. While he is getting better, especially in 1v1 defending, he can get lost positionally, drifting too wide or coming in too narrow. He also struggled some with knowing when to get forward, leaving space behind him or not attacking into space made available to him. Nobody wants to see him playing left back in a World Cup right now, but he's showing enough promise that it's not out of the question come 2018.
In the meantime, Rogers will continue as the Galaxy's first choice left back, where he could win an MLS Cup and will definitely continue to improve. A U.S. call-up for a friendly may not be far off, with October providing an opportunity, but if not January camp looks likely.
Rogers is back in the U.S. picture. Few would have guessed it, but it's true. And it's as a left back.