American Major League Soccer officially gained its first openly gay player when the Los Angeles Galaxy welcomed Robbie Roberts to the team at a press conference Saturday afternoon, reports NBC Los Angeles.
He signed an agreement to join the L.A. Galaxy, making him the first openly gay male professional footballer in the MLS, confirms OutSports.
UPDATE: Rogers took to the pitch on Sunday, May 26, as a substitute, playing for the final 13 minutes in the Galaxy’s 4-0 victory over Seattle, receiving "a polite, encouraging ovation." As the New York Times described it:
"the most remarkable aspect of the environment Sunday night was how unremarkable it was.
The crowd was typical — close to capacity, but still with room to seat several thousand more. The news media turnout was nearly normal — no local columnists and scant national presence. Only the presence of the celebrity and gossip Web site OMG appeared out of place at a soccer match. There were no discernible signs of support (or dissent) for Rogers until he stepped on the field."
Rogers, who recently turned 26, was training with the Galaxy this month, but had yet to confirm that he would formally re-enter the sport. "I don't know what I was so afraid of," Rogers told the Associated Press Friday. "It's been such a positive experience for me. The one thing I've learned from all of this is being gay is not that big of a deal to people."
In a story that appeared in the Sunday Sports section of the New York Times, Rogers said spoke to a group of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender teenagers in Portland, Ore., in March, a month after he came out and retired from the sport and then began to realize that playing soccer not only fulfilled him but also offered him an opportunity to do something more.
“That Nike camp made me feel a little soft,” Rogers said on Saturday, after he signed the Galaxy contract. “It taught me I needed to man up a little bit. It’s easy to play a sport that you love and be a role model for people. It’s a perfect situation for me.”