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Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Robbie Rogers signs with Leeds

By Scott French

Robbie Rogers, the U.S. national team winger who grew up in the South Bay and Orange County, has signed with English second-division club Leeds United, pending approval of a work permit.


Rogers, 24, was out of contract after five seasons with the Columbus Crew and had been on trial at Elland Road. The deal would keep him at Leeds until 2014.

“He has been playing in the MLS, where he has done well, he wants to continue his career in Europe, and we believe he will make an impact here,” Leeds United manager Simon Grayson told his club's website. “As soon the work-permit business is complete, he will be an immediate part of our plans and have an opportunity with the first team.”

Rogers (Rancho Palos Verdes and Huntington Beach/Mater Dei HS) hasn't played in 75 percent of the U.S. national team's games -- he's a rising player within the team -- and Britain's labor department must sign off on a work permit.

“I am obviously extremely excited to be joining Leeds,” Rogers told Major League Soccer's website Wednesday. “I know that the work-permit process will not be easy, but I am very hopeful. These next few weeks I will have to work extremely hard to get fit and hopefully make my first appearance at Elland Road very soon.”

This will be Rogers' second stint in Europe. He left the University of Maryland in 2006, following his freshman year, to sign with Dutch club Heerenveen, but the experience wasn't a happy one, and he joined the Crew the following spring.

Rogers, who has made 18 international appearances for the U.S., played in 115 MLS games for Columbus, scoring 15 goals with 16 assists. He was a Best XI selection in 2008, when he had career highs for starts (26) and goals (6). He scored twice with seven assists in 27 games for the Crew last season.

Columbus replaced Rogers on Wednesday, signing winger Ben Speas -- MVP of North Carolina's NCAA tournament triumph -- to a Home Grown Player contract.

Leeds United (11-9-5) is eighth in the English Championship and sits just one point outside the promotion-playoff zone. The Whites were last in the Premier League in 2004.