SEATTLE — During a taxing stretch when Columbus need all the healthy bodies they can get, a smiling face on Robbie Rogers is an assuring sign that things might turn out okay in Crew land after all.
Rogers returned to action during Saturday’s scoreless draw against the San Jose Earthquakes, and he could see more action off the bench Tuesday night, when the Crew take on the Seattle Sounders in the US Open Cup final here at Qwest Field.
“Just to get in the other night was great,” said Rogers, who has appeared in 16 league matches this season, missing time for both injuries and a US national team call up in May. “It’s been a lot of work, because you lose a lot of muscle on crutches. But I’ve been working hard doing two-a-days and the guys here have done a great job to get me back to where I am. But I still have some work to do.”
On Saturday against the Quakes, Rogers saw his first action since playing in a 3-1 Crew loss to Chivas USA on July 31, just before he underwent arthroscopic surgery to deal with a cist in his left knee. He nearly tallied a game-winning assist on an Emilio Rentería scoring chance that missed the mark.
Rogers worked out with the team on the Qwest Field turf surface during a brief session Monday, and said that although he’s certainly not at full strength yet, he’s fit enough to potentially contribute roughly 30-40 minutes as the Crew seek their first USOC championship since 2002.
The Crew could certainly use the help. They’re fate in the CONCACAF Champions League still hangs in the balance with one match left in group play later this month, and they’re winless in their four last league matches.
For Rogers, waiting through two tough months before he could help right the ship was perhaps the most agonizing part of his recovery.
“It was tough; I just watched a lot of soccer on TV,” Rogers said. “It’s been a really busy year and few of these guys, health-wise, are struggling. I’m just glad to be back to be able to contribute.”
The Crew have dealt with the Rogers injury in a number of ways, tossing players like Leandre Griffit, Emmanuel Ekpo and Eddie Gaven into Rogers’ spot to plug the hole. It’s worked for the most part, but scoring woes have surfaced of late. The Crew have scored just three goals in their last four league games, and have been shut out in two of their last three. It’s unclear if even a healthy Rogers can help remedy the situation, but Crew coach Robert Warzycha is at least happy to one of his steadiest playmaking threats back on the mend.
“He’s a big part of this team,” Warzycha said. “Players have to respect his speed. He did well in the minutes he played (against San Jose) … and I was pleased with his performance. He was very affective.”