Categorized | Featured, MLS, MLS Match Reports

Galaxy introduce Robbie Rogers

Posted on 25 May 2013 by iyeo

The Los Angeles Galaxy achieved another milestone moment for its franchise and Major League Soccer, and the potential impact could be felt throughout all of professional team sports as well.

On Saturday afternoon, the Galaxy formally introduced midfielder Robbie Rogers to the team. Rogers, who back in February announced he was gay and also announced he was stepping away from the game after stints in Europe, was acquired in a trade on Friday evening in exchange for midfielder Mike Magee. Rogers is poised to become the first openly gay male athlete to play in a professional team sport, which could be as soon as Sunday night.

“We’re pleased to have Robbie as a member of our team,” Galaxy head coach/general manager Bruce Arena said. “He offers qualities that we’ve been looking for, and we’re hopeful that in time, Robbie is going to demonstrate the kind of qualities he has previously showed in this league.”

The price the Galaxy paid to acquire Rogers’ rights was a steep one, as Magee became a fan favorite with the Galaxy faithful and emerged as one of the key cogs in LA’s championship seasons of 2011 and 2012. Magee was acquired from the New York Red Bulls prior to the 2009 season and quickly established himself in LA’s starting lineup. Magee’s presence however was felt during the playoffs, as he scored eight goals in 15 playoff games, with several of those goal either tying or winning matches and/or playoff series.

Magee even added backup keeper duties to his resume back on June 25 2011, a road game against the San Jose Earthquakes. Magee had to play as keeper after its then-starting keeper Donovan Ricketts, suffered an arm injury following a collision with striker Steven Lenhart and the then-backup keeper, Josh Saunders, was sent off on a questionable red card. Magee donned the keeper gloves and remarkably made four saves and kept San Jose out of the back net in a scoreless draw. It is believed that Magee asked to be dealt to his hometown Chicago.

“I had spoken to Mike and this was something he wanted to do,” Arena said of Magee’s desire to go back to Chicago. “No question he (Magee) was a great player, but in order to acquire a very good player, sometimes you have to give up a very good player. I’m hopeful in the end, this trade works out for both teams.”

Rogers, a native of Southern California, had a one-year stint at the University of Maryland in 2005, where he helped the team capture the National Championship that year. His play for the Terrapins that season got him a contract with Dutch side Heerenveen in the Summer of 2006, where he spent about half-a-season and featured on the reserve squad, but was unable to crack the first-team lineup, and the two sides parted way in February of 2007.

Rogers immediately signed with MLS prior to the 2007, with the Columbus Crew winning his rights. Rogers scored three times and assisted one goal in his inaugural season, but the 2008 season was the breakthrough for Rogers as well as the Crew. Rogers scored seven goals in 2008 and assisted three others, and his play in the midfield was huge for the Crew, which went on to win its first ever MLS Cup championship that season. Rogers played with the Crew until the end of the 2011 season, where he appeared in 138 matches for the club and scored a total of 17 goals.

“We have been searching for the last year or two for a player that has the skills to be a flank player, play wide, add a little speed to our club, take on players and cross the ball with both feet,” Arena said. “We’re quite excited about having Robbie here and we look forward to his contributions not only this season, but in the future as well.”

Following the 2011 MLS season, Rogers left MLS to try his luck again in Europe. Rogers signed with English Championship side Leeds United in 2012 and made his debut on February 18 against Doncaster Rovers, but suffered a head injury in that match and was subbed out. Rogers missed several weeks, but returned and was even handed the captain’s armband for one match after entering as a substitute and received his first start on April 14 against Peterborough United, but was subbed out ten minutes later after suffering an ankle injury, an injury that eventually ended his season.

Rogers was loaned out to League One side Stevenage for the first half of the 2012-2013 season. Rogers made nine appearances for the club, but was returned to Leeds in January and the two sides parted way in February. Shortly after his release from Leeds, Rogers made his announcement about his sexuality and announced he was leaving the game. Rogers however accepted an invitation from Arena to train with the squad, and became more and more comfortable about returning to the game.

“I felt like I could step away from soccer,” Rogers said. “I actually thought I wouldn’t miss it that much, and I missed it more and more, and then I saw some clips of me just training [from my days] in Columbus, just fooling around. … So I said, OK, I’ll just come back and train, see how that is.”

The Chicago Fire held Rogers rights, but the midfielder was adamant that he wanted to play closer to his home. Eventually, a deal was worked out between the two clubs and all that is left is for Rogers to receive his International Transfer Certificate, who could come as early as tomorrow and if that happens, Rogers could debut for the Galaxy on Sunday night at home against the Seattle Sounders. Rogers is looking forward to getting back on the pitch, hopefully as soon as tomorrow night.

“I’m very motivated to prove myself,” Rogers said. “I don’t want to be the last cut from the World Cup team, I want to be on the World Cup team. I want to prove to everybody in this room and everyone in the world that I’m a great footballer, a great soccer player. It doesn’t matter that I’m gay, it doesn’t matter where I’m from. That stuff’s not important.”

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