Rogers: "I don't want to go to Chicago"

This morning Robbie Rogers put to rest some of the speculation about whether or not he would return to Major League Soccer and his destination if he did indeed decide to play. During a radio interview with "Soccer Today", Rogers said that a return this season is something he's considering. After spending a week in training with the Los Angeles Galaxy he shed some light on his future plans saying there was "a really good chance" he would play this season.

“To be honest, I had no plans of going back to football at all and definitely not this soon. But I was looking over some video clips that MLS sent to, I think it was CNN or ABC, of me just training, fooling around and just enjoying football. And it kind of just like, ‘Oh my gosh, I miss this stuff," said Rogers.

“I just need a bit more time to evaluate and to see how things play out, but I’ve really enjoyed myself [with the Galaxy]. It feels normal to be back. I’ve grown up playing soccer my whole life. I’ve always been on a soccer field, so I feel at home on a soccer field,” he continued.

The kicker is Rogers apparently has no interest in playing for the team that currently holds his MLS rights. Even before the Fire acquired his rights from Columbus in the Duka-for-Oduro deal, the knowledgeable speculation was that he would return to MLS at some point after failing to make an impact in England but that some point involved a West Coast club. A native of California, one can't begrudge Rogers for wanting to play closer to home upon returning to the States.

His decision to come out in March doesn't change the fact that his desire all along was to play closer to home if he did play again after suffering through various injuries since leaving the league for Leeds United after the 2011 season. His decision not play in Chicago doesn't come as a shock to anyone and I suspect the Fire's desire upon acquiring him was to leverage his rights as a trading chip despite maintaining all along that they wanted him to join the club once he decided to return to MLS.

"I don’t want to go to Chicago. I think if it comes down to you can only play in Chicago, then I probably won’t go back. I need to do it somewhere where I’m totally 100 percent comfortable so I would most likely do it closest to my family. I’m not closing the doors or saying no to anyone else that I’ve talked to but that would be my priority," Rogers told Soccer Today.

Rogers' situation brings back memories of the Fire's acquisition of Brian McBride in 2008. After deciding to return to MLS, McBride decided he wanted to play closer to home and preferred to play only in Chicago. Toronto FC, the club that held his rights at the time was "encouraged" to make a deal that involved Chad Barrett, a first round Super Draft pick, and allocation considerations. A trade to the home team is where the comparison stops however. Robbie Rogers, his personal situation and the weight of being the first openly gay athlete to play a major league sport in America aside (despite some pundits in mass media only calling the "Big 4" major) is no Brian McBride.

McBride returned to MLS after a successful career at Fulham and the USMNT. His value at the time merited a trade for a striker, draft pick, and more. Rogers returns as a player with some value but he's never really been more than a "good" MLS player and one who failed to make a dent after leaving to play overseas at that. A healthy and fit Rogers would certainly be an asset worth adding to your club if the price was right and if he fit into your budget but the reality is he's a complimentary piece that would fit better in LA than he would in Chicago from a strictly football perspective.

His injury history is also a concern. Rogers played in a mere 4 matches while at Leeds and only another 6 while on loan at Stevenage. An ankle injury slowed his progress in England and kept him from finding a club this winter. His decision to come out and take a leave from football changes the dynamic of his return and certainly places the media spotlight on him as a player. His eventual return should be applauded as a brave moment in American sports and a monumental step in the fight for equality that should never really have been an issue in the first place. He has every right to want to face those challenges with the support of friends and family close to home. No one should begrudge him for that.

By the same token no one should begrudge the Fire for wanting to capitalize on the trading chip and asking for as much as possible from Los Angeles in return. Many have mentioned that the club should insist on Mike Magee and more in exchange. Some have suggested young starlets Jack McBean or Jose Villareal. The fact is that Rogers has some value as a player but his insistence that he won't play in Chicago lessens the Fire's bargaining power a bit. It would certainly make sense to ask for the world in exchange but the reality of the importance of what Rogers is about to do will probably outweigh the needs of Chicago in this instance. If the league steps in to "facilitate" a deal some may feel that the Fire will get the short end of the stick.

On February 4 I wrote this regarding the Fire's acquisition of Rogers:

"The best move here may be to trade Rogers' rights within MLS in exchange for a forward or allocation money which would allow room for another scorer."

Take the allocation and draft picks and call it a day but ask for Magee. An unhappy Rogers wouldn't make much of an impact on the field for the Fire but his impact in Los Angeles would be bigger than just soccer or this trade.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE VIDEO

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  • Are these deals even made by the teams or does the league handle it all? One thing for sure, if he's not making Chicago look very attractive right now. Wonder if his tune would be different if the Fire were a winning side with better talent and organization ($).

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    My thought is nothing would change if Chicago was at the top of the table. He wants to play near home.

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    I'm sure if the Fire were Supporters Shield contenders it would be positive for our chances. But on the other hand I think the US players like Robbie or Hercules Gomez rightfully resent being considered second class citizens in the league by virtue of their failure to have the same rights as foreign -born players.

  • In reply to Roti2000:

    I honestly don't think that would be a factor in this case. It is definitely time to do away with the allocation process for returning US players though.

  • The Fire will talk to Rogers and his agent this week. I wouldn't expect a change of mind about Chicago but the Fire need to continue posturing regarding having him join the club in order to maximize any trade possibility.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Once Rogers has put this out in the media, it's tough to see anything changing in these talks. While its true that Rogers has said he doesn't feel the need to come back to soccer, it sounds like his attitude is changing.

    And I totally agree that he's more valuable for his marketing benefits than on-field performance. But that's part of the package. And yeah, I would say by all means ask for Magee. I don't think that'll happen, but if LA really wants Rogers then they should be "encouraged" by MLS to make it happen as with the Mcbride/Barrett situation. Unfortunately, I think we have to look further down the LA roster to find the player that we might get. Chandler Hoffman anyone?

  • In reply to Modibo:

    I'd take Sean Franklin too (right back anyone?) but I wouldn't complain with draft picks and allocation.

    I don't know if LA has any allocation funny money in their pockets but I'm sure MLS will find some if it comes to that.

  • This seems like a different situation than him not just wanting to be in Chicago. I think he is perfectly content with not playing but if he can get back on the field and be back home then I think he would jump at that chance. WHEN he comes back I hope there isnt a big deal about it and he can just go on his way.

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    I'd be shocked if the Fire got a player out of a deal for Rogers's rights, especially one of those mentioned above. Sure, they should ask for the moon and play up his value to LA given circumstances that go beyond the game; which interestingly enough will cease to be a big deal once he's back on the field and playing consistently.

    Anyhoo, you said it best, G: "Take the allocation and draft picks and call it a day but ask for Magee."

    If this happens, perhaps the Oduro trade doesn't look so bad after all...

    Oduro for Dilly Duka, Allocation $, and draft pick(s)? If these were the terms in February, folks would have been hailing Leon and Klopas as geniuses and Columbus as fools.

  • In reply to ManOn TheFire:

    Oddly enough Columbus is now looking for a target forward to pair with Arrieta because the trio of Higuain, Arrieta, Oduro doesn't seem to be working well enough. Imagine that.

    They tried Oduro starting over Arrieta up top with Higuain in the withdrawn spot behind him and Dom scored a couple of goals but it seems teams have figured that out. Shocking.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    to be fair, i'd still rather have oduro over duka. he still can be dangerous and i think he'd be a great 3rd striker off the bench. it's too bad he was asking for a trade....though it does appear it'll work out when rogers comes back and we get a package for his rights.

  • In reply to Drew:

    Oduro can still be a valuable piece as long as you don't expect him to be your leading scorer and an automatic first eleven choice.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    True, but I think that the problem is that Dom feels he should be both.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    yes

  • In reply to ManOn TheFire:

    i was calling it a steal once they announced rogers' rights as part of the package. i was second guessing myself some early in the season, though in the back of my mind knowing that if rogers came back, it could change things. i'd take a 1st round pick and allocation money and be happy.

    that said, duka is looking like a player that can provide some depth as a late sub and not much more. it's too bad as we need help where he plays, but he doesn't appear to be the answer.

  • L.A. has a lot of young talent besides Magee and Villareal.
    Watched the Houston game and both Charlie Rugg and
    Zardes looked pretty sharp. How come they can start first year players that look like they know how to play and the Fire have players on the bench who have been with the team three or four years and hardly ever start a game and when they come on the field they look lost. Is L.A. that much better in finding young talent that can start at the get go than the Fire?
    Rogers is out of shape and probably wouldn't contribute much to the team at least for this year, anyway. He probably will never be a dominant in the league.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    Austin Berry? Jalil Anibaba?

  • Per the Daily Herald's Orrin Schwarz on twitter.....

    Klopas doesn't expect Fire to make any moves today before transfer window closes

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    boo

  • MLS Players Union has released the annual player salary report.....

    http://www.mlsplayers.org/salary_info.html

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    CHI MacDonald Sherjill F Base: $ 400,000.00 Guaranteed: $ 527,125.00

    CHI Dos Santos Maicon F Base: $ 157,000.00 Guaranteed: $ 164,433.33

    Nuff said.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    doesn anybody else think that a guaranteed compensation of $273k for Duka is a little over kill? especially when Oduro has a guaranteed compensation of $122k. if the crew didn't pay any of Duka's salary that doesn't seem like a fair trade.

  • In reply to penapirata:

    I believe the Fire are not paying that full guaranteed amount.

  • I hope the Fire ask for the moon and refuse to settle for less. Why should the Fire help strengthen another team if it isn't equally beneficial? I also don't buy that it's just about him being closer to home and take it as a jab at Chicago. Statements like: "I was looking over some video MLS sent to, I think it was CNN or ABC, of me training, fooling around and just enjoying football And it kind of just like, oh my gosh I miss this stuff" lead me to think he misses being on TV and the attention.
    Also him stating: "I don't want to go to Chicago. I think if it comes down to you can only play in Chicago then I probably won't go back...I'm NOT CLOSING THE DOORS OR SAYING NO TO ANYONE ELSE..." This leads me to believe he would play other places not in LA but definitely not Chicago. Sorry, I can't not take that personal. I don't want him here either and I hope that the Fire negotiate tough and don't trade his rights unless its heavily in the favor of the Fire.

  • In reply to john:

    This from Rogers' twitter this afternoon...

    "No disrespect to the Fire or any1 in Chicago. I'm against playing there because I need to be near my fam at this time. Please respect that."

    By not closing the door anywhere else he could be referring to Seattle, where Sigi Schmid expressed an interest after having coached him to start his career in Columbus.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    If he really wants to be near family wouldn't Chivas be in the mix as well?

  • In reply to Roti2000:

    Maybe the Earthquakes as well....

  • Guys as long as klopas and Leon are leading the team it does not matter who is traded for the team at best is marginal. I hate to say this because I blew good money on season tickets but the best thing that could happen is for the team to continue on its road to failure and hopefully the dynamic team of Frankie and Leon are history.
    Personaly i can not blame Rogers for not wanting to play for such a poorly coached team. He is a pro and wants to play for the team with the best chance to be successful. Can anyone say that the fire is a team that could or even have a chance to win? At this point the fire is one of the worst teams in the league. If they continue to play the big Mac can anyone expect a change.

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    Frank will be gone long before Hauptman gets rid of his right hand man. I think we'll be stuck with Leon for a long time.

  • I think the ownership needs to change and a local owner who understands Chicago should be recruited to buy the team. The owners of the Wolves would be a good model. They get how to build a good team with insane league rules and how to attract fans. The current Fire hierarchy just does not get it.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    I agree, but who is going to pony up for this mess?

  • I decided to listen to the podcast myself because everything I read in print led me to believe he was disrespecting Chicago and that he feels its an inferior place to be. After hearing his tone I don't feel he was being disrespectful, I do think he is wanting familiarity and he believes him being gay will bring uncomfortable attention from the media. Someone should let him know that Chicago media completely ignores MLS so he wouldn't have to worry about that here.

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