Los Angeles Galaxy
Editor’s note: When the LA Galaxy played the Carolina Railhawks in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup in June, Robbie Rogers was not the only gay soccer player in the stadium. Former college player Stephen Bickford was on hand to watch, and had some reflections on watching Rogers play.
A year has passed and we’re back to where we started. The Railhawks hosted the Los Angeles Galaxy in the US Open cup for the third consecutive year, and I come to you with another article about the Galaxy’s openly gay player, Robbie Rogers. This year, the result was the same in two ways. The Railhawks won, and Rogers gave a good account of himself.
However, there’s far more depth to this year’s Robbie Rogers than the Rogers who was playing in his first road game for his new club last season. Robbie Rogers has shown a lot to fans, pundits, his teammates, and his coach this past year. He was able to come out from under the weight of being “America’s first openly gay athlete in a major professional sport.” And he has handle the pressure and celebrity that have come from it with incredible courage, strength, humility and grace.
- Only one goal was scored in the Washington Spirit’s victory over the Chicago Red Stars midweek. Lori Lindsey played most of the match, and her pressure helped ensure the shutout.
- Also in midweek action, two first-half goals led to the Boston Breakers being shut out by FC Kansas City. Lianne Sanderson captained the team for a full 90 minutes.
- The shutouts in NWSL continued over the weekend with a 5-0 walloping of the Portland Thorns at the hands of the Western New York Flash. Meleana Shim was a first half sub.
- Finally it was a 1-1 draw for the LA Galaxy against Chivas USA. After an outstanding performance on the road in Chicago, Robbie Rogers earned a spot in the starting lineup and played for the full 90 minutes in his new home at right back.
- LA Galaxy defender Dan Gargan felt ill late in the first half of their match against the Chicago Fire, and Robbie Rogers was called in as a substitute. His wicked cross to Landon Donovan resulted in a game-tying goal and the assist and other great moves earned him “Hero of the Game” honors.
- The Boston Breakers gave Joanna Lohman and Lianne Sanderson, well, breaks this past weekend with Lohman not playing and Sanderson serving as a sub in their 4-1 win over the Portland Thorns. Both Meleana Shim and Sarah Huffman were Thorns substitutes.
- Abby Wambach suffered a knee injury in the Western New York Flash’s 2-1 loss to the Houston Dash. She is expected to recover quickly and is a part of Jill Ellis’ roster for the USWNT’s upcoming friendlies against France.
- The midweek rest must have done the trick for Lianne Sanderson as she scored a brace against the Washington Spirit over the weekend. She was the sole Boston Breakers scorer, though, and the team lost 3-2 to the Spirit in a match that also included play from Joanna Lohman and Lori Lindsey.
February 15, 2013 is a day I will always remember. Robbie Rogers came out publicly as a gay man, was embraced by the soccer community, and was on his way to making professional sports history.
I remember sitting at the desk in my office, very much ready for the weekend to begin in six or so hours. Then I saw the tweet: “Just getting some sh*t off my chest” along with a link to therobbierogers.com.
Now I feel like I need to say that I don’t make presumptions about any player’s sexuality. But at the same time as I moved my mouse pointer to that link a part of me wondered, “Is this it? Is this going to be an American soccer player coming out of the closet while still in the prime of his career?” It truly was a gut feeling based on nothing whatsoever.
I read the post. I read it again. And again. I wanted to make sure what I was reading was exactly what I thought it was. Even then, a part of me wasn’t sure. If you go back and look at the first versions of posts to the site that day, they all said “appears to have come out.” Part of my brain still thought it was too good to be true, although the posting was soon confirmed as legitimate.
But yeah, there was also a part of me that was filled with nothing short of giddy excitement. It’s funny because my company had just hired someone for my department a week before and she was in the office to be trained by me. Who knows what she thought of me nervously pacing around with my phone in my hand. I texted my best friend. I sent messages to the other out soccer players I knew of in North Carolina, in Montreal, and in Sweden. It’s so odd how I remember exactly what I did one year ago.
Then I set up a Tweetdeck search. What would the reaction be? Would people care? Would people be supportive?
I was nothing short of overwhelmed. The love from teammates, other players, and so many fans had me beaming all day long. That reaction is so much of what made the day so special for me. Our community coming together to virtually wrap our arms around one of our own, letting him know he is loved and that whatever path he would choose to go down, we all had his back.
That’s why I made the video above. I wanted some sort of memento of February 15, 2013. Something to remember the brave step Robbie Rogers took and the way a world reacted. And how proud I felt that day to be a fan of American soccer.
Robbie Rogers wasn’t the first soccer player to come out, and he certainly won’t be the last. And I know that every time we have another day like February 15, 2013, soccer players and fans from around our soccer community will envelop that next out player with our love.
Part of Robbie Rogers’ visit to the LA Gay & Lesbian Center with the MTV Act blog was a visit to their facilities for youth and to speak with teens.
The rate of homelessness among LGBT teens is disproportionately high (it’s estimated that 40% of youth on the street identify as LGBT), and Roger saw both the housing available for youth in need and a clothes closet available for job interviews. He also took questions from teens at the center, many of them athletes themselves. Youth in crisis is an issue that is very close to my heart, so it’s great to see Rogers reaching out in this way.
Robbie Rogers recently visited the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, and he spoke with MTV Act, the network’s blog that encourages viewers to take action on issues they care about.
He talks a future with other athletes coming out, hurtful things he heard in locker rooms, his coming out process, and his return to play with the LA Galaxy.
Robbie Rogers will also feature on the premiere of MLS Insider on the NBC Sports Network this Friday evening, and an upcoming episode of ESPN’s Outside the Lines with Julie Foudy. It’s great to see him moved to put himself out there like this. Hopefully some athletes struggling with their own sexuality are hearing what he has to say and gaining comfort and strength from his words.
MTV Act has more videos in their blog post, including discussion about gay marriage, the Boy Scouts, and the Move Beyond It Campaign. The blog will have more video to come from Rogers’ trip to the Gay and Lesbian center, which included a stop by its facility for homeless youth.
To say that the past week has been a whirlwind would be a bit of an understatement.
It was a stormy afternoon in Austin, Texas, last Friday. I thought I had caught a break in the rain and headed home only for the skies to open up again while I was riding the bus. I was soaked to the bone when I arrived in my apartment and after a week when I had to work both day and night shifts at my job, I was drenched, tired, and generally miserable.
Of course, the news started coming across Twitter while I was taking a long shower to warm up a bit. The LA Galaxy would be holding a press conference the next day and the buzz was that it was going to be an announcement of the trade for Robbie Rogers. I booked a flight.
It was JetBlue, so I could keep the television tuned to ESPN where SportsCenter featured Rogers hourly, calling it “sports history.” I got a little choked up when I stepped into the terminal and Rogers’ face was on a series of televisions in the airport bar. A crazy weekend was ahead.
Editor’s note: We won’t be recapping every game Robbie Rogers plays, but last night presented a unique opportunity: MLS’ first out player taking the field with another out player in attendance. Stephen Bickford recaps the match for us.
On Wednesday night, the Galaxy traveled to Cary, NC to take on the NASL’s Carolina Railhawks in the US Open Cup third round. The Galaxy’s lack of respect for the Railhawks, and the US Open Cup was extremely apparent, as the team traveled without head coach Bruce Arena, assistant Dave Sarachan, and the vast majority of their first team.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a blatant show of disrespect to an opponent, or to the game of football as Arena & Co. displayed with his lack of involvement and obvious disinterest in a perceived inferior competition, against an inferior opponent. One begs to ask, if you don’t care about the US Open Cup, why participate in the tournament at all?
Many eyes were on Major League Soccer Sunday night as Robbie Rogers made his historic return to the game. Here’s a look at how some outlets covered the event.
ESPN SportsCenter, including Rogers’ pregame prediction and postgame interview:
Robbie Rogers made his return to Major League Soccer in a match that saw his LA Galaxy shut out the Seattle Sounders.
The Galaxy certainly made it easy for head coach Bruce Arena to have some flexibility with second half substitutions, racking up all four of their goals in the first half of the match. In addition to being a part of the buildup to Sean Franklin’s opening goal, Robbie Keane scored his first hat trick in MLS, with a slick finish in the 24th minute and two converted penalties.
For the first half, it just seemed that whenever the Sounders captured possession, they would get the ball up the field then just fall apart. The second was a bit more balanced with chances for both sides, including a very nice 68th minute shot from Landon Donovan coupled with a nice save from Michael Gspurning.
Robbie Rogers was substituted into the game in the 77th minute for Juninho. He took the field, the crowd roared, and the game continued. When the whistle blew for full time, the LA Galaxy walked away with a 4-0 win.
Rogers got in a few touches, won a one-on-one battle, and generally looked good out there on the field. And immensely happy.
In the post-game press conference Bruce Arena emphasized that judgement will come for Rogers over the next weeks and months, and Rogers himself said true tests will come on narrower pitches where he will have less space to work with. The goal is to continue to get Rogers playing time and experience back in the game.
That next experience will come Wednesday as the Galaxy take on the Carolina Railhawks in the next round of the U.S. Open Cup. With the crew Arena is sending to Cary, Rogers sees himself somewhat as a senior figure, an older player who can share past Cup experience with other players who haven’t had as much play in the century-old tournament.
But all in all, the game was perfect. It was normal. And Rogers wouldn’t have had it any other way.