Going from lead actor to an ensemble cast can be hard. It’s a transition that Daniel Craig successfully took on during his shift from Bond to Benoit Blanc in Knives Out. His co-star Chris Evans regularly flips from one-man band to another member of the orchestra as part of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.
He is the bona fide star as Captain America, but in the Avengers films contributes to a collection of leaders.
In 2018, Sam Rogers was the Captain. Whenever healthy, he wore the armband at Cheney Stadium and on the road. In 2019 however, things were different. Due to injury, other leaders stepped up. Shandon Hopeau and Josh Atencio took on the armband. Jesse Daley and Justin Dhillon took seats on the leadership committee.
Rogers adjusted to the more dispersed nature of leadership, and when he returned to regular action in the final third of the season, the team was more cohesive, a unit. The team, and Sam, are strongest in an ensemble. If Sam is Cap’ with his signature shield, defending the goal through fierce spirit and determination, the team is a collection of heroes who combine their abilities into something powerful.
With the ball in the attack, Sam is part of the supporting cast rather than a featured star. Depending on his partner, he can be the further forward of the CBs, making himself available as a safety/cycling option just over the centerline. During deadball situations, Rogers is likely to be a first option as a headed target to put a shot on goal. Even if all he does is force the opponent to mark him, Sam will open space for his teammates. He enables others to shine, which brightens his own future as well.
No part of soccer demands teamwork more than how a squad behaves when it doesn’t have the ball. The mission is two-fold – defend the goal and retake possession. No matter the individual talent, and Rogers has that, how each player works within the group determines success. There’s no doubt Rogers is talented. He made the 20 under 20 in 2017 and in 2018 based on his ability to safeguard the goal.
Defense is a thinking man’s game. Not only is communication with teammates key, so is a star’s ability to read passes before they happen. With 4,659 minutes of pro experience, Rogers is now able to think his way through the challenges offered in a conference with the reigning league MVP and a couple dozen double-digit goal-scorers.
Rogers is a strong duelist. In one-v-one situations, he rises to the occasion. Every season his percentage of duels won has increased. Now at 62% of all duels and 66% of aerial duels, he’s trending to be dominant in 2020.
He’s been Big Sam since signing his pro contract in 2017. Just 20, the centerback has an MLS-ready body. At 6’3” and 182, he is a giant on the pitch. It’s been key to his winning aerial duels at such a strong rate. There’s more than just power to his game. Strong balance and nimble feet keep him upright during high-contact moments on set-pieces. Some players of his size may have limited movement or speed, but that’s not the case for Big Sam. Everything about how he uses his body says top-level pro soccer player.
18 starts | 2 sub appearances | 1,596 minutes | 0 goals | 1 assists | 8 shots | 6 key passes
Off the Pitch
At Enterprise Elementary in Federal Way, the students listened as Sam read to them as part of Read Across America. On a soccer field in Tacoma, he kicked the ball with the kids of YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap County. In SeaTac, he was part of the minipitch opening for the youth of the Highline School District.
— Tacoma Defiance (@TACdefiance) March 1, 2019
Whether solo or with the whole team, Rogers is out there helping the youth of the Sound grow and learn.
Looking to 2020
There is a massive opportunity for Sam Rogers in 2020. The First Team needs centerbacks and Sam is in his fourth professional season. Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer wants to see the captain take control of his future.
“He has got to grab this opportunity. If that kid cannot look at the squad and say, ‘this is my chance,’ then we’re going to have an issue. Ton of potential, but he has to grab hold of it, needs to work at it, and he needs to see if he’s an MLS player.”
Rogers spent time this offseason training with Cambridge United in England. He trained with a Belgian club last year as well.
A display of the heart and determination that he’s discovered within himself will mean that he becomes the 14th Homegrown Player signed by Sounders FC and the third via Tacoma Defiance. It might also mean a trip to the 2020 Olympics, as Sam was a part of that age group prior to his injury woes.
For more on Sam Rogers and your 2020 Tacoma Defiance roster:
- Captain Tacoma | Big Sam Rogers
- Rogers and Hinds Bring Rivalry With Portland to Defiance
- Pride of Defiance Is About Accepting Different People, Different Cultures
- Nucleus of Defiance Roster Returns for 2020
- Tacoma Defiance Signs Four to New Contracts
The 2020 schedule is out – Mapping Defiance: Tacoma’s 2020 Campaign.
Single match tickets are now available. Wave the flag for our defiant crew on opening night or join us for the full season as our players explore the region and test their mettle. Check out our Season Tickets options.