Los Angeles Galaxy
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.
Robbie Rogers is officially a member of the LA Galaxy, a move that makes him the first openly gay man to play for a team in top-tier American professional sports.
The trade between the LA Galaxy and Chicago Fire both allows Rogers to play professionally near his family and hometown, but as players such as Omar Gonzalez told the press, also allows LA’s Mike Magee to return home to his birthplace of Chicago.
Throughout the event, Rogers both acknowledged the historic step he’s taking while also expressing that this is as much about wanting to get back to the sport he loves as being a role model. He told reporters, “My number one goal was to come back and compete and play soccer and I know that by doing that I’m also being that role model you can say or that spokesperson. It makes it easy for me to play a sport I love and to do that.”
He also addressed soccer fans who may not like him for his sexuality by saying he’d like to give such people a hug and that he would welcome a conversation with Sheik Monsour, part owner of the newly announced NYCFC and Deputy Prime Minister of a nation with a terrible track record on human rights.
We’ll continue to have coverage of Robbie Rogers’ return to soccer throughout the weekend, including more quotes from Rogers, Bruce Arena, and his new teammates. We’ll also be live at what will potentially be his first match tomorrow night.
Robbie Rogers to become first out Major League Soccer player, first out man to ever play in any top soccer league.
First reported at in a story on the USA Today website (and spotted by Taylor Twellman), multiple anonymous sources have said that the deal has been done for Robbie Rogers to return to Major League Soccer, playing for the LA Galaxy.
Steven Goff of the Washington Post is hearing the same:
Unconfirmed but hearing Galaxy sending Mike Magee to Fire for rights to Robbie Rogers. Awaiting final word. #mls
— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) May 25, 2013
It’s happening, 2nd source says: Magee for Rogers, straight up #mls
— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) May 25, 2013
Gay4soccer.com also has a source confirming this trade.
More as the story develops…
Last night Rogers attended the Los Angeles premiere of the film Now You See Me, an upcoming release about magicians who pull off bank robberies. He posted this pre-red carpet picture to his Instagram account.
More news also came out yesterday about the negotiations between the Chicago Fire and LA Galaxy over Robbie Rogers’ playing rights. LA Galaxy Confidential reports that the Fire is aiming high right now, asking that Rogers’ rights be traded for Mike Magee, who has come to be known as “Mr. November” for coming through in the clutch for LA scoring key goals at playoffs time. Needless to say, the swap isn’t likely.