Robbie Rogers made his debut for the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer on Monday. In doing so, Rogers became the first openly gay male athlete to play a game in a major North American league.
Rogers announced his sexuality and retirement from soccer in a February 23 post on his personal blog. Rogers’ post came eight days after his release from English club Leeds United. The 26-year-old former United States national team member wrote it was “time to discover myself away from football.”
Public perception always held that Rogers would return, and on May 1 that seemed likely. The same day NBA player Jason Collins’ came out with a Sports Illustrated cover story, Rogers began training with the Galaxy as a “special guest.”
Rogers told USA Today he began planning his return in April. Speaking before a group of around 500 LGBT children in Portland, Rogers said he “seriously felt like a coward.”
“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?”
Rogers entered the game against the Seattle Sounders in the 77th minute to a roaring ovation. He is expected to continue to serve as a substitute and hopes to play for the U.S. national team in the 2014 World Cup.
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