April 30, 2013 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Los Angeles Galaxy
CARSON, Calif. - LA Galaxy coaches and players were highly supportive of Robbie Rogers when he revealed he was gay two months ago, and nothing had changed in that regard after the 25-year-old returned to the training field Tuesday.
Rogers, who stepped away from the sport after making his announcement in mid-February, worked out with the two-time defending MLS Cup champions and Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said it was "open-ended" what the future holds for the former Columbus Crew standout in Southern California. The Chicago Fire hold his MLS rights, meaning that a team would need to work out a trade with the Fire in order to add the winger to their roster.
"He looked a lot sharper than I thought he would today," said Arena, who added he's been in contact with Rogers for some time. "Given the fact he's been away from the game for a while."
The timing of Rogers' appearance Tuesday was interesting, to say the least, especially after Monday's news that NBA player Jason Collins, via a national magazine, said he was gay.
"The timing I guess is good," Arena said. "I think our league is a progressive league. Our league is a league comprised of all different races, colors and creeds, and to be accepting of a gay athlete I don't think is anything that's difficult for our league.
"We've had a great mentality of being open and tolerant of all different kinds of people, views, what have you. We've known Robbie a bunch of years and he's a first-class person and we're only too excited to have him here with us."
Rogers was not available for comment, but Galaxy players were effusive in their praise for the striker/winger who made 18 appearances with the U.S. National Team while also spending time in Holland and England. Rogers also won an MLS Cup with Columbus in 2008.
"I think it's great," said Mike Magee, who added he has known Rogers for almost 10 years. "It's good to see him overcome some barriers and just get back on the field. I think everyone hoped he would. We're pretty certain we'll see him on the field one day, hopefully here.
"Just to see him kind of stepping out and hang with the guys and doing things he didn't think he could do before and how easy it is for him, it's good to see."
Magee said he talked to Rogers after Tuesday's training session and Rogers told Magee he felt "like an old man."
"I told him I know how he feels," said Magee, who turns 29 in September.
The Galaxy's Landon Donovan said he also was thrilled to see his old friend back on the training ground.
"My opinion is that Robbie is an inspiration to all of us," he said. "He's showing us it's OK to be human, to be yourself. We all deal with different things, we're all struggling at different points, but he's proud of who he is and I think that says a lot and I think we all can learn a lot from him."