Openly Gay Soccer Player Could Join L.A. Galaxy

Openly gay soccer player Robbie Rogers could soon join the L.A. Galaxy after deciding to unretire from the sport.

Rogers joined the Galaxy this week for an open-ended training stint, one that could lead to a place to the club and a return MLS. Still only 25, Rogers is deep with experience at the international level and was under contract with England’s Leeds United before taking a leave from the sport and announcing that he is gay.

It isn’t clear yet where Rogers will end up. Though the openly gay soccer player is practicing with the L.A. Galaxy, the Chicago Fire actually acquired his rights from the Columbus Crew, where Rodgers played for five seasons.

“My personal hope is that we’ll sign him and that they can find out a way to work a trade with Chicago,” said Galaxy player Landon Donovan. “I think beyond the immediate soccer part, I think there’s much bigger positive consequences that can come from that, and we’re all hopeful that he’ll get fit and play well and that Bruce [Arena] wants to sign him.”

Robbie Rogers’ return has garnered attention outside of soccer circles after NBA player Jason Collins this week announced that he is gay, making him the first professional athlete in a major American sport to come out while he is still playing. Rodgers, who is also openly gay, would likely bring further attention to the crashing barriers that once existed for gay athletes.

It would also mean more attention for the MLS, which has emerged from the fringes of American sport and has a rapidly growing popularity in many cities.

If the gay soccer player does not join the L.A. Galaxy, he could have a home in one of those soccer hotbeds. The Seattle Sounders have already expressed interest in landing Rogers, and they could have an advantage. Their head coach, Sigi Schmid, has known Robbie since the player was nine years old.

“I’m happy for him,” Schmid said. “I know he feels much happier now that he’s been able to express himself. I hope his comeback goes well. I hope he doesn’t play for the Galaxy. I’d rather see him play for us.”

Schmid added that a gay soccer player would be welcomed at the L.A. Galaxy or any other team in the MLS.