The former Leeds United midfielder's left-back performances so far this season haven't been up to the same standard as those which saw him tipped for a US national team recall.
The LA Galaxy’s Robbie Rogers experienced a remarkable revival last season after being moved by head coach Bruce Arena to left-back but his start to the 2015 campaign has shown that the ex-Leeds United man still has a lot to learn at his new position.
Rogers, 27, was converted from the midfield to the backline in the summer due to a spate of defensive injuries and would go on prove one of the club’s star men during their run to a third MLS Cup title in four seasons, earning a new long-term contract in the process.
Marking an amazing turnaround since his brief retirement upon leaving Leeds in 2013, his form saw him hailed as the league’s best left-back and tipped for a US national team recall, although a first call-up since November 2011 is still to materialise.
His transition was bound to have hiccups, though, and he’s enduring those now, having taken the blame for three of the four goals LA have conceded in their first four games of the new season.
Nevertheless, having logged just 27 starts in his new role so far, the former winger acknowledges that he’s still learning the ropes when it comes to the full-back position and is determined to cut out the recent mistakes.
“It's just been a little weird,” he told MLSSoccer.com. “There's like little moments where I think my decision making hasn't been as good as I want it. ... It's been a little frustrating because it's just little mistakes that make a big difference, and I'm not used to that many in a row like that. It's a little disheartening.
“I think I just need to kind of take a step back and see and learn from these and learn and progress going forward,” he continued. “I want to be a good defender, and that's my position now, so I need to learn from these. It's almost a full year I've been a defender – coming up this summer – so I want at that point not to make those kind of mistakes.”
LA boss Arena added: “He's got to be steadier than he's shown. ... I think you've still got to accept the fact that he's played this position for a little over a year, if that. There's still a learning curve to it.”
The fact that Rogers had the since-retired Landon Donovan’s support on the left flank in 2014 no doubt helped his initial transition but, with the emerging but raw Jose Villarreal now in front him, teams have been much quicker to exploit his side of the pitch.
There’s not too much to be concerned about at this point, with the growing pains well worth the attacking spark he adds, but the 18-times capped international’s chances of breaking back into the US setup will soon start to fade if his defensive issues persist – not least because of the now-increasing competition at left-back.
The likes of Fabian Johnson, Greg Garza and Brek Shea are all competing for the same spot and, while Rogers has earned Jurgen Klinsmann’s praise in recent months, he has a lot of work ahead in his bid to convince the German that he is still national team material.