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Robbie Rogers debuts for LA Galaxy, becomes first openly gay male in U.S. professional team sports

May 27, 2013, 1:20 AM EDT

Seattle Sounders v Los Angeles Galaxy Getty Images

Normally one team scoring four times before halftime kills a game’s drama. On Sunday, it didn’t matter.

It’s not that we didn’t care about the result. We did, a little. But when the LA Galaxy went into half time up 4-0, Seattle’s disastrous half allowed us to focus on the bigger picture.

It was only a matter of time until Robbie Rogers came on.

The former Columbus Crew winger was officially signed by Los Angeles on Saturday. When his International Transfer Certificate arrived on Sunday, we knew what would happen. With a national television audience set to tune in, Rogers would surely see time.

Sean Franklin’s opener followed by Robbie Keane’s first half hat trick left eyeing the clock. Would he come on at half-time, with the game well decided? Maybe as the first sub? Perhaps there was a specific minute Bruce Arena had in mind? Or maybe it wouldn’t happen at all.

In the 77th minute, with LA’s second sub, it finally came. To the applause of Home Depot Center’s 24,811 in attendance, Rogers became Major League Soccer’s first openly gay player. He’s also the first homosexual male to take part in U.S. professional team sport.

(MORE: The dramatically short arc of the Robbie Rogers story)

In terms of impact on the result, his time on the field was meaningless. The game was decided, and with the other 21 players undoubtedly aware of the occasion, the game faded into insignificance.

But in terms of the larger impact, Rogers’ time on the field couldn’t have been more meaningful. His appearance not only broke through barrier, blowing up one of sports’ former taboos, it did so with the full support of the over 24,000 in Carson as well as hundreds of thousands tuning in from home.

On an individual level, this was a landmark night of Rogers. But collectively, it was a great night for Major League Soccer, the larger gay community, and as more leagues embrace players like Rogers, the greater American sports landscape.

Here’s Rogers’ moment:

  1. footballer4ever - May 27, 2013 at 1:52 AM

    I applaud Rogers for his tribulations and bravery to comeback to MLS who is an accepting league on that matter unlike other “major” leagues in the USA.

    Having said that, what will you contribute to the LA Galaxy/MLS overall when it comes to displaying your football skills? Will you become a footballer star or simply become a footballer who is gay in a major North Anerican league? I root for the first option.

    • daviddmsvcp - May 27, 2013 at 4:21 PM

      Well, whenever the team needs an openly gay player, the coach can say, “Rogers’ get in there”.

  2. forked - May 27, 2013 at 1:53 AM

    Are we done yet? Can we get back to focusing on soccer now or do we need to continue pandering to 3% of the population? I really don’t give a damn what he does with his own time.

    • CaliforniaRedskins - May 27, 2013 at 3:29 AM

      I don’t get what you mean by pandering to 3% of the population. I think that people who generally would prefer to live in an open and tolerant society find this to be a very important story. God help us if that’s only 3 percent.

    • sportfan2 - May 27, 2013 at 10:25 AM

      “are we done yet”, not hardly, the left has only begun.

  3. seanb20124 - May 27, 2013 at 7:01 AM

    Any chance MLS retires his jersey?

  4. slclions - May 27, 2013 at 7:32 AM

    don care anout what happens in a players life off the pitch (as long as he is not doing anything illegal or hurting others) but it bothers me that again another athlete has forced a trade or a transfer to a team they prefer. Why couldnt he just play in Chicago? it would still be a nig moment in sports.

    im really starting to be annoyed with all the athletes in sports (its not just soccer, NBA and NHL are pretty bad too) who demand for trades even though they have a contract with a team. (looking at Rooney, Ibramovich etc right now).

  5. slclions - May 27, 2013 at 8:01 AM

    *big moment in sports….sorry about the spelling errors

  6. raidordie - May 27, 2013 at 9:01 AM

    Big moment in sports? Really?! How about the continued downfall of societal decay. We’re a nations of sissys and apologists now. Gone are the days of real men like Steve McQueen. People want to live in a tolerant world huh? Look at Europe and how their tolerating of Muslims has turned out. What a joke

    • joeyt360 - May 27, 2013 at 4:40 PM

      If you’re having hate problems I feel bad for you son. I got 99 problems but the hate ain’t one.

      • daviddmsvcp - May 28, 2013 at 3:52 AM

        It’s nice that you feel bad for him. Whatever that means. I don’t quite understand the reference to Steve McQueen. But I do think it is OK to say that some things are not OK.

  7. slclions - May 27, 2013 at 9:35 AM

    im not agreeing or disagree if it is a big moment in sport. Im just saying he should of stayed in Chicago and not force a trade.

    Tired of athlete forcing teams…you want money to play a game fine but see out your contract. Dont sign and then make demands to leave

  8. mdac1012 - May 27, 2013 at 10:33 AM

    The only thing I care about is can he play? If he is the Rogers that played with the Crew that had quick pace and was good at setting up others (he is not a scorer), this could workout for L.A. If he is the Rogers that played in Europe that looked lost and un-interested, it’s going to be a mess.

    The guy lost in all this is Mike Magee, I hope he has a huge year for Chicago!

  9. slclions - May 27, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    there’s always a valid reason to justify a trade request it seems. Some people will always ignore the diva side of players. Is it too much to ask to just see out a contract. I don’t care if its Rogers, Rooney or any player. Contracts mean nothing.

    • joeyt360 - May 27, 2013 at 4:39 PM

      Rogers wasn’t under contract, he was a free agent. That was why he smirked at the MLS system, where a team can ‘own’ your rights when they don’t have a contract.

  10. heynyc61 - May 27, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    No big deal.. There are plenty of gays in all sports …

  11. mazblast - Jun 3, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    We won’t achieve true equality in sports until the race, ethnicity, gender, religion, and/or sexual preference of any given player is irrelevant to the point of not being mentioned. Every “He/she is the first…” reference just points out the differences between people.

    It’s not supposed to matter–so why do those supporting every “cause” keep mentioning it?

    OTOH, it’s a smart move on Rogers’ part. When his physical skills decline, he can stay in the game for several years more by threatening to play the “You’re only cutting me because…” card.

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