According to reporting from Soccer by Ives, Sam Rogers is currently in Madrid to sort out a free transfer to Spanish second division side CD Leganes for the winter transfer window. Rogers’ contract with Tacoma Defiance runs until December, meaning that he’s able to sign a pre-contract with another club.
Leganes has historically bounced around the Spanish pyramid and was in La Liga as recently as last season before being relegated.
This isn’t the first time Rogers has been close to a move abroad, as he trialed with Standard Liege in Belgium last Summer. Rogers returned to Tacoma following the trial and went on to feature prominently for Defiance as they finished the 2019 season with an impressive five-game unbeaten run. This year started with promise as Rogers joined the Seattle Sounders first team preseason, but with that came a challenge from Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer. Schmetzer appeared to express some frustration at the fact that Rogers hadn’t yet earned a spot with the first team, and stressed that he needed to take advantage of the opportunity that preseason presented.
Asked about the rumor on Sounders Weekly, Sounders GM and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey classified it more as a trial and implied the team was supportive.
More from Lagerwey on Rogers and getting players chances when they can't break into into first team: "We are going to try to get them opportunities with other first teams...We wish Sam the best and hopefully the trial will go well and then maybe he'll have an opportunity there."— Jackson Felts ⭐⭐ (@JacksonKJR) September 16, 2020
The Sounders broke preseason camp without offering Rogers a contract while signing three other Homegrown Players, including fellow centerback Josh Atencio. Rogers has started seven of Tacoma’s 10 USL Championship games this season.
Should this move for Rogers cross the finish line, CD Leganes will be getting a centerback who has plenty of technical ability, and can create attacking opportunities off the dribble or with a pass. Only 21 years old, Rogers has been a professional since he joined Sounders 2 in 2017 and has piled up over 5,000 minutes in 65 professional appearances since then. Rogers has also been in the mix for multiple US Youth squads, most recently earning a call to Jason Kreis’ U-23 squad. A move abroad could serve to solidify his chances of earning spot as the US begins Olympic qualifying in 2021.
The major drawback to this point has been a series of injuries and personal struggles that have at times interrupted his progression. To that end, as long as he can stay healthy until his move to Spain, this could be the longest injury-free stretch in a while.
The pandemic has significantly limited the opportunities for game time for Rogers, but if it means that he can put his injury troubles behind him he could have plenty of good days ahead of him in Spain.
Whether it’s this move or not, Tacoma Defiance are almost certain to go into the 2021 season without longtime starting CB Rogers. The adjustment for the team is sure to be difficult, but his replacement is likely already signed to the team as teenage CBs Abdoulaye Cissoko and Eric Kinzner both wait in the wings.
*Updated on Sept. 16 with comments from Garth Lagerwey.