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"I want to get back to soccer, which is what I love," Rogers said. "I get to do something I love, and I get to help people and be a positive role model. I’m really excited to set a great example for other kids that are going through the same thing I went through. It’s a perfect world for me, a perfect world."
Rogers isn’t likely to debut for Los Angeles immediately, although coach Bruce Arena thinks Rogers already is in decent shape despite 18 months with little match experience. Arena figures Rogers could be a strong contributor to the Galaxy by July.
"Certainly the league, and I think the fans, are going to be receptive in a real positive way," Arena told the AP. "But we’re not in this to pioneer social issues. We’re trying to win games as a team, and we’re trying to produce the best team we can. Robbie has shown us that he has the potential to still be a real good player in our league, and that’s what we’re hopeful of."
Rogers is mindful of the place he’ll take in the culture when he steps on the field this summer, but the skilled, speedy winger is even more excited to contend for MLS titles and another chance to play the U.S. national team.
During his brief retirement from soccer he contemplated entering the London College of Fashion. But the break only confirmed for him that his competitive fire for soccer still burns.
"I had a lot of fear to come back to the game," Rogers said, remembering countless instances of homophobia everywhere from the stands to his teams’ locker rooms. "I was just afraid I was putting myself in an environment that in the past had affected my mental health because I always felt like an outcast. I felt that I couldn’t be myself.
"But it’s been amazing," he added. "It’s been normal, just as it should be. I’m a soccer player. I happen to be gay, but I’m a professional soccer player, and I have been since I was 18, 19. ... I’m just really excited to go back to the game, and excited to deal with these stupid stereotypes that are out there with athletes and the gay community, just a bunch of different things."
While MLS has a fraction of the NBA’s popularity, Rogers has the potential to be more influential than Collins or featherweight boxer Orlando Cruz, who has won two fights since coming out last year. Collins is a journeyman basketball player without a contract for next season; Rogers is an accomplished international soccer player likely in his prime.
Rogers won an NCAA title at Maryland in 2005 and an MLS title with Columbus in 2008 while making the all-league first team. He has played sparingly over the past two years for English clubs Leeds and Stevenage after leaving the Crew in December 2011.
But his workouts at the Galaxys training complex in Carson, Calif., were enticing enough, even if Rogers acknowledged hes "definitely a bit rusty right now."
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