Openly gay, Rogers joins Galaxy, could play Sunday

The SportsXchange

Sunday could he a red-letter day for American sports if Robbie Rogers suits up and takes the pitch when the Los Angeles Galaxy and Seattle Sounders meet in an MSL match in Los Angeles.

Rogers signed a multiyear deal with the Galaxy becoming the first openly gay soccer player in MSL, and the second openly gay athlete in American sports.

The Galaxy acquired Rogers from the Chicago Fire in exchange for MSL leading scorer Mike Magee.

Rogers told the Los Angeles Times that he hopes to be treated like any other player, but is realistic.

"I'm not naïve," he said. "If I do hear something, I know not to react."

Rogers revealed in February that he is gay. At that time, he retired from soccer to avoid what he considered would be a "circus." Late in April, NBA player Jason Collins became the first active professional male athlete to come out publicly as gay.

While Collins did seek advice from Rogers, the 26-year-old soccer standout said Collins did not influence his decision to return to competition.

Rogers said he had a change of heart after speaking to a group of children in Portland.

"I seriously felt like a coward," he told USA TODAY Sports. "These kids are standing up for themselves and changing the world, and I'm 25, I have a platform and a voice to be a role model. How much of a coward was I to not step up to the plate?"

He reached out to Bruce Arena, coach of the Galaxy whom he had previously worked with, to see if he could train with the team.

A deal was worked out with Chicago and now pending paperwork, Rogers might be available for Sunday evening's game with the Sounders, who are unbeaten in their past six matches.

Arena says Rogers is in decent shape despite little actually match play in more than a year.

"We will slowly build him into it," Arena told The Times. "He will need his proper minutes in games before he is a player in a starting position."

Rogers has plenty of international experience with the U.S. National team having made 18 appearances, the most recent coming in November in a friendly against Slovenia.

Rogers said he hopes to make the national team in time for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

He also said he would like to be the role model for gay teens -- a role model that he never had.

"I want to come back and be that voice, be that role model. There a lot to be excited about. It's awesome to be part of a movement that is changing our society."
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