LA Galaxy acquires Robbie Rogers in historic move

May 25, 2013

The LA Galaxy signed midfielder Robbie Rogers to a multi-year deal after acquiring his rights from the Chicago Fire in exchange for midfielder Mike Magee. Rogers, who will wear number 14, could be eligible to make his debut for the club on Sunday when the Galaxy host Seattle Sounders FC.

In addition to the on-field benefits the team will gain from signing Rogers, the move was also a historic one for MLS and American professional sports because Rogers has publicly disclosed that he is a gay athlete.

“I’d like to thank everyone at Major League Soccer, the LA Galaxy and the Chicago Fire for allowing me to return to playing the game that I love,” Rogers said. “I look forward to getting back out onto the field and continuing my soccer career as a member of the Galaxy.”

The asking price for Rogers was not cheap however, as Magee had been a valuable goal scorer and offensive sparkplug for the Galaxy over the past few seasons.

In 105 regular season games with LA, Magee scored 19 goals and added 11 assists, including a team-best six goals so far in 2013. Magee was even better in the postseason, tallying eight goals and an assist in 18 games.

“We are pleased to be able to add a player of Robbie’s qualities to our roster and feel that he will help improve our team now and in the future,” LA Galaxy General Manager and Head Coach Bruce Arena said. “It is also important to recognize Mike Magee and all of his accomplishments with our club. What he and his teammates have achieved over the past four years has been remarkable and we wish nothing but the best to him and his family as they begin this next chapter of their lives.”

A native of Huntington Beach, California, Rogers won an NCAA title with the University of Maryland in 2005 before signing a contract with Dutch club Heerenveen. After a year-and-a-half in Holland, Rogers signed with the Columbus Crew. In 2008, Rogers enjoyed a breakout season, earning MLS Best XI honors and helping the Crew win their first MLS Cup.

In 2012, he signed with Leeds United of the English Championship (second division) and appeared in four games, making one start. Ahead of the start of the 2012-13 season, Rogers joined Stevenage of England’s League One (third division) on loan and appeared in nine games before returning to Leeds in January and leaving the club by mutual consent.

In addition to his club career, Rogers has earned 18 caps with the U.S. National Team, scoring twice.

Of course, the elephant in the room when it comes to gay male athletes has always been whether the mere presence of such an individual would affect team chemistry in the locker room. This has partly contributed to the reluctance many gay athletes have had in announcing their sexual orientation during their playing careers.

Fortunately, for both the athletes and society, progress is being made and bigotry is slowly on the decline.

NBA journeyman center Jason Collins recently came out publicly, a first for that league because he is still an active player and available on the free agent market this offseason.

As for Rogers' MLS peers, Galaxy team leader Landon Donovan repeatedly has voiced his public support and respect for Rogers, which should certainly ease Rogers' transition to his new team.

Most importantly, Rogers can play. And in sports, where performance on the field is the ultimate way of earning the respect of one's teammates, Rogers should have no problems.

By Staff of The Daily Sports Herald and news services

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