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Columbus Crew’s Robbie Rogers earns US national soccer call-up

Nick Geidner / For The Lantern

Robbie Rogers was on a plane preparing to leave Chicago on Sunday when he got a call from the U.S. national soccer team. Rogers said that, while he has received similar calls from the team in the past, they are never expected.

By the time he hung up the phone, Rogers had learned that he was one of 23 players chosen for America’s 2011 Gold Cup roster. Rogers and his U.S. teammates will compete for the championship of FIFA’s CONCACAF region, which includes countries from North and Central America, and the Caribbean.

Rogers — who will report to national-team training camp in Cary, N.C., after the Crew’s Saturday match against Chivas USA — said he was surprised he was included on the 2011 roster.

“You’re never expecting to get called up to the national team,” Rogers said. “This is always a surprise and I was very happy. This is my second Gold Cup, and I remember how exciting it was and how much fun I had.”

Rogers was selected to the 30-man U.S. World Cup roster in 2010 and has also made appearances at the under-18, under-20 and under-23 team levels. Rogers said he is proud to have been chosen again this year.

“It’s the highest level and the highest stage,” Rogers said. “You’re representing your country and your family. When you’re younger, your ultimate goal is to play for your national team.”

U.S. coach Bob Bradley said Rogers’ play with the Crew this season secured his inclusion in the national team.

“Robbie is a player that everyone knows has the ability to run at people and get behind people,” Bradley said during a teleconference Monday. “His mobility and his energy in (the Crew) have been good. We thought it was a good time to get him back with us and build on some of the things we’ve seen over the years.”

Bradley said Rogers’ previous experience playing for the national team also factored into his selection.

“(Rogers) understands the way we work and the way we do things,” Bradley said. “We all know that Robbie has a lot of talent, and, in different moments for the national team, it has come out in a very positive way. We think this is a good time to see if we can push it a little further.”

Crew coach Robert Warzycha, who made 47 appearances for the Polish national team, knows the significance of playing soccer on the international stage.

Warzycha said Rogers’ selection to the U.S. roster is well-deserved.

“It’s an honor to play for your country, and that’s great for Robbie,” Warzycha said. “He does a lot of dirty work and he’s very fit, and every coach would love to have him.”

Rogers said playing for the national team is humbling.

“It’s an honor,” he said. “Every game you get to put that U.S. jersey on is just special.”

Rogers’ national-team duties this summer will include a friendly match against FIFA World Cup champion Spain on June 4. Gold Cup group play will begin June 7 against Canada in Detroit. Group play continues June 11 against Panama and June 14 against Guadeloupe.

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