Bliss, Warzycha say Rogers not on trading block

Former Bext XI winger tweeted displeasure after weekend loss

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Despite widespread speculation, the Columbus Crew are not actively trying to trade Robbie Rogers, the team confirmed on Wednesday, and will not entertain any offers unless they are presented with what technical director Brian Bliss termed "a heck of a deal."

Rogers, a mainstay in the Crew lineup for the past three seasons and a member of the US national team, was upset at being benched for the MLS opener last Saturday at D.C. United in favor of second-year midfielder Dilly Duka.

After the 3-1 loss – Rogers replaced Duka in the 66th minute and scored on a penalty 13 minutes later – Rogers re-tweeted a comment from friend that his days in Columbus were numbered.

On Tuesday, Rogers said he didn’t want to talk about the situation for fear of stirring controversy. Bliss said he has been contacted by several teams this week, which he believes is in large part based on Rogers' tweets. But the Crew TD said he is not proactively looking to deal Rogers, and scoffed at reports that the midfielder has submitted a list of teams to whom he would like to be traded.

“If there’s a trade, it’s not his choice where he goes,” he said. “It’s whatever the best deal is for the club. Right now there is no deal, and as I said before to the one or two teams that did inquire, ‘We weren’t necessarily shopping the player around, but your offer better be pretty good.’

“It’s like any player,” he added. “If somebody would call for Will Hesmer or Chad Marshall, yeah, it’s highly unlikely we would ever do a deal, but you always listen. There’s a difference between actively looking or fielding an offer. ... We’ve been fielding offers for Robbie and half our roster since the end of last season.”

Rogers, a University of Maryland product, burst onto the scene in his second season by scoring five goals in the first seven games of 2008. He finished the year as an MLS Cup winner with six goals and three assists to earn Best XI honors. A season later, he had a goal and five assists in 22 games, and a single score last year in 20 games.

Coach Robert Warzycha said Rogers never expressed unhappiness with the club until after Saturday’s game.

“He told me that he doesn’t see that he is performing or getting any better and that maybe if he played for another team he would accelerate, play better,” Warzycha said. “I said, ‘I want you here and I’m looking for you to perform for the Columbus Crew.’ He’s a four-year starter. He can’t just be discouraged by this year. He’s good player. We want him here.”

Warzycha said he does not want to trade Rogers.

“I am not pursuing it,” he said. “He has one more year on his contract and I would love for him to stay in Columbus. I would love for him to try hard and if nothing’s positive, go from there.”

Bliss said it doesn’t make sense to trade Rogers without getting “comparable value.” When asked if Rogers still has value, Bliss said his play in the DC game proved he does.

“His energy, his attacking mentality, his aggressive mentality was reminiscent of the Robbie of the past,” Bliss said. “Why all of a sudden would we want to give that away? He may not have started, but does that mean he’s not going to start in 75 percent of the games this year? It’s awful difficult then to just part with the guy.”

Warzycha said he is not sure of Rogers is trying to force a trade but does not think his player will be a distraction to the team.

“As a professional player, he has an obligation to the club because if that wasn’t the case, we wouldn’t have any league or any teams,” he said. “I want him to stay in Columbus. I want him to be happy.”

Rogers’ status for Saturday is unclear. Because of a death of a friend he may return to California, but Warzycha said late Wednesday that Rogers would be at practice Thursday. His weekend plans were still undecided.