Something historic happened late Sunday evening at Los Angeles's Home Depot Center. Robbie Rogers stepped onto the field for as the first active openly gay athlete to play in a major North American sport.
Rogers entered the 4-0 route for his LA Galaxy over the Seattle Sounders late in the game, around the 77th minute, as if it was nothing. He jogged across the field and took his position and waited for play to resume. He got a high five from Landon Donovan, the teammate who helped orchestrate Rogers' trade to the Galaxy, and ultimately his return to soccer, announced this weekend. But the crowd around him stood up and cheered. They let him know the moment, and its significance, wasn't lost on them. "I understand that historically this is a big thing. But for me, it’s just another soccer game," Rogers told reporters after the game. Well, he wasn't entirely unaware of what was happening. "OK, this is a soccer game. I’ve done this a million times. But then obviously I know, I’m not naïve, I know people are watching."
Rogers sort-of retired from competition in February after announcing that he was gay. He needed to "step away" from the game, he said at the time. But over the next few months he received overwhelming support from other players. Some players and coaches started to push and prod Rogers towards returning to the game. One was Donovan, a former U.S. national team teammate and current L.A. Galaxy teammate, and another was Seattle Founders coach Sigi Schmid. So it was only fitting that Rogers would make his debut Sunday evening against one the men who helped usher him back to the game.
I won't ever forget tonight! I love my new home @lagalaxy.— Robbie Rogers (@robbierogers) May 27, 2013