Robbie Rogers sees good chance at returning to MLS this season
(BDCi) — Former U.S. national team winger Robbie Rogers who stepped away from the sport in February after announcing he was gay, said Sunday that “there’s a really good chance” he’ll play in Major League Soccer this season.
Speaking to “Soccer Today” on ESPN Radio in Dallas (103.3 FM), Rogers said that he’s been encouraged by both the state of his game and the welcome he’s received from Los Angeles Galaxy players after joining the team in training this week.
“To be honest, I had no plans of going back to football at all and definitely not this soon,” Rogers told the station. “But I was looking over some video clips that MLS sent to I think it was CNN or ABC of me just training, fooling around and just enjoying football. … And it kind of just like [made him say], ‘Oh my gosh, I miss this stuff.’
“I just need a bit more time to evaluate and to see how things play out, but I’ve really enjoyed myself [in Galaxy training]. It feels normal to be back. I’ve grown up playing soccer my whole life. I’ve always been on a soccer field, so I feel at home on a soccer field.”
The video clips, Rogers said, “ignited a little fire in me” that sparked his desire to make a comeback. News of Rogers’ return to soccer coincided with 12-year NBA veteran Jason Collins coming out in a Sports Illustrated essay, making him the first openly gay active player in any of the four major North American sports.
After saying in a February letter titled “The Next Chapter” published on his personal website that “it’s time to discover myself away from football,” Rogers told “Soccer Today” that he and Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena have been discussing a return to Galaxy training sessions as a special guest for the past few weeks. Rogers also trained with the Galaxy before reporting to Leeds United for the 2012-13 season.
His MLS rights are held by the Chicago Fire after they acquired them on Feb.4 trade with the Columbus Crew, who won the MLS Cup in 2008 with Rogers’ help. But Rogers said he is determined to play close to home if he decides to resume his career.
“I don’t want to go to Chicago,” Rogers said. ” I think if it comes down to you can only play in Chicago, then I probably won’t go back. I need to do it somewhere where I’m totally 100 percent comfortable so … I would most likely do it closest to my family … I’m not closing the doors or saying no to anyone else that I’ve talked to but … that would be my priority.”
Galaxy star Landon Donovan is among those pushing for his team to secure Rogers’ rights from the Chicago Fire, telling MLSSoccer.com this week: It was fun to play with him. He’s been out a while, so it’s going to take him a while to get back into it, and he would admit that. But hopefully does well. My personal hope is that we’ll sign him and that they can find out a way to work a trade with Chicago.”
Asked about walking into a team’s locker room for the first time since his February announcement, even though he’s not an official member of the Galaxy, Rogers said: “I was a bit scared at first, to be honest. You feel a bit like an outcast, of course. But it was the same as last summer when I went there. All the guys were very welcoming and cool and just treated me like anybody else, so I don’t know what I was worried about. It’s been like I said, it’s just been normal. It’s been really nice.”