Robbie Rogers

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Robbie Rogers
Robbie-rogers.jpg
Rogers in a press conference for the US national team in 2009
Personal information
Full name Robert Hampton Rogers[1]
Date of birth (1987-05-12) May 12, 1987 (age 27)
Place of birth Rancho Palos Verdes, California, United States
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)[2]
Playing position Winger
Club information
Current team
LA Galaxy
Number 14
Youth career
2002 IMG Soccer Academy
2005 Maryland Terrapins
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2005 Orange County Blue Star 3 (0)
2006–2007 Heerenveen 0 (0)
2007–2011 Columbus Crew 106 (13)
2012–2013 Leeds United 4 (0)
2012–2013 Stevenage (loan) 6 (0)
2013– LA Galaxy 16 (0)
2014 LA Galaxy II (loan) 4 (0)
National team
2004–2007 United States U20 15 (3)
2008 United States U23 5 (1)
2009– United States 18 (2)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of June 9, 2014.

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of August 10, 2011

Robert Hampton "Robbie" Rogers (born May 12, 1987) is an American professional soccer player who plays for LA Galaxy in Major League Soccer. He plays as either a winger or as a second striker. Rogers has also represented the United States men's national soccer team. In February 2013, Rogers came out as gay, becoming the second male footballer in Britain to do so after Justin Fashanu came out in 1990.[3] In May 2013, he became the first openly gay man to compete in a top North American professional sports league when he played his first match for the Galaxy.[4]

After one season playing college soccer at the University of Maryland, Rogers attracted the interest of Dutch Eredivisie side Heerenveen. He signed for Heerenveen in August 2006 but failed to make any first-team appearances. He left the club by mutual consent in February 2007, and returned to the United States to sign for Columbus Crew. Rogers' four-year tenure at Columbus Crew was a successful one, with the player breaking through into the first-team, as well as securing an MLS Cup title in 2008 and two Supporters' Shield wins in 2008 and 2009 respectively. In December 2011, Rogers opted to leave Crew when his contract expired. A month later, he signed for Championship side Leeds United on a free transfer. The first six months of his Leeds career were blighted by injury, and he was transfer-listed ahead of the 2012–13 season. In August 2012, Rogers joined League One team Stevenage on a loan deal until January 2013. At the end of Rogers' loan agreement at Stevenage, he briefly returned to Leeds before it was announced he had left the club by mutual consent.

After briefly retiring and coming out as gay upon leaving Leeds, Rogers signed with the Los Angeles Galaxy in May 2013,[5] becoming the first openly gay male athlete to join MLS[6] or any of the five major North American sports leagues.[7]

Club career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Rogers started playing soccer at age four-and-a-half at the American Youth Soccer Organization.[8] At the age of seven, Rogers played soccer in the Coast Soccer league, as well as in various Hispanic leagues.[8] He attended Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California, where he was a two-time High School All-American in soccer.[8] Rogers made three appearances for Orange County Blue Star of the USL Premier Development League in 2005, leaving upon deciding to attend university in the fall.[1][9][10] He played one season of college soccer at the University of Maryland, alongside his future Columbus Crew teammate Jason Garey, helping lead the team to the 2005 NCAA Championship.[8] During his one season at UMD, he scored seven times and assisted a further five goals.[11][12] He was also named in the ACC All-Conference Freshman team, as well as the Soccer Rookie Team of the Year.[8]

After impressing during his one year of college soccer for Maryland Terrapins, Rogers attracted the interest of Dutch Eredivisie side Heerenveen.[11] In the summer of 2006, Heerenveen invited Rogers to the club for a three-week trial, an option that he ultimately took up.[11] The trial period was successful, and he signed a two-year professional contract with the Dutch side in August 2006, his first professional deal.[11] Rogers admitted that the decision to turn professional, and turn down three remaining years of eligibility at Maryland, was "the toughest of his life", but also stated that it was "an opportunity he could not pass up".[11] However, Rogers failed to make a first-team appearance for the club, although played frequently for the reserve side that went on to win their respective league during the 2006–07 season.[12][13] He left Heerenveen by mutual consent in February 2007.[8][12]

Columbus Crew[edit]

Following his release, Rogers returned to the United States, and was subsequently signed by MLS side Columbus Crew ahead of the 2007 MLS season.[14] Columbus Crew acquired Rogers after they had won a Draft Lottery for the player in March 2007.[14][15] He scored his first goal for the club on June 17, 2007, netting the opening goal of the game in a 3–3 draw away to New England Revolution.[16] Rogers scored two further times during the 2007 campaign, both of which came in a 3–2 victory over DC United at RFK Stadium.[16] He made ten appearances during his first season with Crew, scoring three times and making one assist.[17]

Robbie Rogers on March 29, 2008 at Columbus Crew Stadium, in a match against Toronto FC

The 2008 season would be Rogers' breakthrough season as a professional.[14] He started the campaign playing regularly for Crew, scoring his first goals of the season in a 4–3 home win over CD Chivas USA on April 13, 2008.[18] He went on to score the winning goal in a 2–1 win against Kansas City Wizards on May 4, 2008,[19] before netting twice a week later as Crew defeated San Jose Earthquakes 3–2 to take their winning streak to five matches.[20] Following his two goals against Earthquakes, Rogers was awarded the MLS Player of the Week award for week seven.[8] Rogers' sixth goal of the campaign came in a 3–1 home win against New York Red Bulls at Columbus Crew Stadium in September 2008.[21] He went on to score a further goal in the 2008 MLS Cup Playoffs, scoring the club's second in a 2–0 win over Kansas City Wizards; a win that ensured Crew progressed to the Conference final.[22] Rogers played in all four of Crew's MLS Cup games, including in the final, where they defeated New York Red Bulls 3–1 at The Home Depot Center in November 2008.[23] The season was successful both individually and collectively for Rogers, as he was named in the MLS Best XI team for the year, as well as picking up Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup silverware.[8] He made 33 appearances during the 2008 campaign, scoring seven times, and assisting three goals.[24]

It took Rogers five months to score his first goal of the 2009 season as Crew started the season without a win in seven games;[25] Rogers eventually netting in a 3–0 win over San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium on August 9, 2009.[26] It was his only goal of the 2009 MLS season, although he did score two goals in two CONCACAF Champions League matches against Puerto Rico Islanders and Deportivo Saprissa respectively.[27][28] During the season, Rogers picked up his second Supporters' Shield title after Crew finished first in the overall standings despite their slow start, finishing a point ahead of second placed Los Angeles Galaxy.[29] The club, however, failed to retain their MLS Cup crown following a Conference semi-final defeat to Real Salt Lake, losing 4–2 on aggregate, with Rogers playing in both games.[30][31] He made 31 appearances in all competitions, and scored three goals.[32]

During the following season, Rogers' fourth at Columbus Crew, he made 34 appearances and scored twice.[33] His first goal of the campaign came in a 3–2 win over New England Revolution in May 2010, with Rogers' goal coming in the 91st minute of the match.[34] He also netted in a 2–1 win over Colorado Rapids in the MLS Cup Conference semi-final.[35] Despite Rogers' goal, eventual champions Rapids would go on to win the tie 5–4 on penalties after extra-time.[35] Rogers opened his account for the 2011 season in the club's first game of the season, scoring a late consolation penalty as Crew went down 3–1 to DC United.[36] A month later, in April 2011, he scored the only goal of the game in a 1–0 home victory over Sporting Kansas City at Columbus Crew Stadium.[37] It was to be his last goal for the club, in a season where he played 30 times.[38] His last game for the club was in a 1–0 defeat to Colorado Rapids in the MLS Cup wildcard game on October 28, 2011.[39] During his last season with the club, he led the team in assists and was also awarded the 'Crew Hardest Working Player' award.[38][40] In December 2011, it was announced that Rogers was a free agent after he rejected the offer of a contract extension at Columbus Crew.[41][42][43] During his five seasons at Crew, he made 138 appearances and scored 17 times.[44]

Leeds United[edit]

After Rogers left Columbus Crew, he was strongly linked with a move to Championship side Leeds United.[45] He subsequently joined Leeds on an initial two-week trial period in December 2011,[46] before signing on a permanent basis a month later, in January 2012.[47][48] Rogers explained his national team coach Jürgen Klinsmann recommended him to then Leeds manager Simon Grayson, who in-turn invited Rogers for a trial at Elland Road.[49] His work permit was granted a week after signing for the club.[50] He made his debut on February 18, 2012, coming as a 79th minute substitute in an eventual 3–2 home win over Doncaster Rovers.[51] However, he had to be substituted just ten minutes into his debut after suffering a severe clash of heads with Doncaster defender Tommy Spurr.[51][52] The head injury ultimately ruled Rogers out of first-team action for several weeks.[53] Rogers returned to the first-team in April 2012, making his first appearance under new manager Neil Warnock[53]—with the player coming on as an 85th minute substitute in a 2–0 defeat to promotion chasing Reading at the Madejski Stadium.[54] He was handed the captain's armband during the match after replacing Robert Snodgrass.[55] A week later, on April 14, Rogers made his first start for the club in a home fixture against Peterborough United.[53][56] Similarly to his debut, he was substituted after just ten minutes due to sustaining an ankle injury.[56][57] The ankle injury would ultimately rule him out for the remainder of the season.[58][59] Rogers made four appearances during the second half of the 2011–12 season, with his first few months at the club blighted by injury.[53]

Ahead of the 2012–13 season, manager Neil Warnock stated that he was hopeful Rogers would be able to get a full pre-season under his belt.[60] In June 2012, Rogers returned to the United States to take part in a rehabilitation programme, as well as spending two weeks training with the Los Angeles Galaxy squad.[46][61] He returned to Leeds at the beginning of July 2012, and featured in a number of the club's pre-season friendlies; scoring in comprehensive victories over Farsley and Tavistock respectively.[62][63] Shortly before the start of the new season, on August 9, manager Neil Warnock revealed that Rogers, along with team-mate Danny Pugh, had been placed on the transfer list in order to generate funds for a new striker.[64][65]

Rogers joined League One side Stevenage on August 23, on a loan deal until January 2013.[66][67] Stevenage manager Gary Smith, previously manager of MLS side Colorado Rapids, stated that Rogers always impressed him during his time managing in the United States.[68] He made his debut for Stevenage two days after signing, on August 25, coming on as a late substitute in the club's 1–0 away victory against Oldham Athletic.[69] Rogers made nine appearances in all competitions during his five-month loan spell, with his time at the club "hampered by injury".[70] He returned to his parent club on January 15, 2013.[70]

On his return to Leeds, it was announced that Rogers had left the club by mutual consent and was available on a free transfer.[71] He made just four appearances during his time at the club, of which three were as a substitute.[71][72]

Retirement[edit]

Weeks after being released by Leeds United, on February 15, 2013, Rogers announced his retirement from professional soccer at age 25 and announced he was gay, making him the first professional footballer based in Britain to come out since Justin Fashanu did so in 1990.[73] He announced his retirement and sexuality with a 408-word post on his personal blog, robbiehrogers.com, in which Rogers wrote, "I'm a soccer player, I'm Christian, and I'm gay. Those are things that people might say wouldn't go well together. But my family raised me to be an individual and to stand up for what I believe in."[74]

In a March 2013 interview with The Guardian, Rogers said he retired to avoid the pressure and scrutiny from the press and fans, which he called "the circus". Rogers said, "Are people coming to see you because you're gay? Would I want to do interviews every day, where people are asking: 'So you're taking showers with guys—how's that?'"[74]

Return with LA Galaxy[edit]

Rogers playing for the LA Galaxy in 2013

On May 1, 2013 - the day after basketball player Jason Collins became the first active openly gay player in a top U.S. sports league and credited Rogers with having "blazed a trail" - Rogers joined Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer in training as a "special guest".[75] Rogers said he made the decision to return in April 2013, after speaking in front of a crowd of 500 at an LGBT youth event in Portland, Oregon, during which he "seriously felt like a coward". Rogers told USA TODAY Sports, "These kids are standing up for themselves and changing the world, and I'm 25, I have a platform and a voice to be a role model. How much of a coward was I to not step up to the plate?" He contacted Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, who extended him an invitation to train in Los Angeles.[74]

On May 24, 2013, Rogers agreed to terms with the Galaxy, pending the trade of his MLS rights from Chicago Fire SC in exchange for Mike Magee.[5] Although the Fire held his MLS rights, Rogers had said in a radio interview that he had no intention of playing for Chicago, as he preferred to be close to his family in Southern California.[76]

On May 26, 2013, Rogers played his first match as a substitute for the Galaxy in a 4-0 win over the Seattle Sounders FC, becoming the first openly gay man to play in a top North American professional sports league (Collins, who had come out earlier in the month, was a free agent at the time of his announcement).[4]

International career[edit]

Rogers made eight appearances for the United States U18 team, scoring three goals and assisting a further two, though all were in unofficial friendly matches.[77] He then went on to play regularly for the United States U20 side from 2004 to 2007. He was part of the side that played in the 2006 Milk Cup, as well as representing his country at the 2007 FIFA U20 World Cup[77]—playing in all five of his country's games throughout the tournament.[77] He made 15 appearances for the U20 side, scoring three goals.[77]

He was called up to take part in the United States U23 team's two-game tour of China in 2007; in preparation for the 2008 Summer Olympics, held in Beijing.[77] During the tour, he scored one goal and assisted another in a 3–3 draw with China U23.[77] He was subsequently called up by coach Piotr Nowak to be part of the 18-man U23 Olympic squad, and played in all three games for the US as they departed the tournament in the preliminary round.[77]

Senior team[edit]

In October 2008, then head coach Bob Bradley called Rogers up for the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Trinidad and Tobago.[78][79] However, he had to withdraw from the squad due to a back injury, and was consequently replaced by Chris Rolfe.[78] Rogers was then included in a 25-man January camp ahead of a friendly against Sweden on January 24, 2009.[78] He started the match, his first cap for his country at senior level, playing 69 minutes in a 3–2 win at The Home Depot Center.[80] He was named in the United States 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup squad. He started in his country's first match of the tournament, assisting the first two goals before scoring the third in an eventual 4–0 win against Grenada on July 5, 2009.[81] Rogers made five appearances throughout the tournament,[82][83][84] including a starting appearance in the final, which the US lost to Mexico.[85]

After impressing during the Gold Cup, Rogers was called up to play in the United States' final two 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification matches in October 2009.[86] Although he was not named in the squad for the 3–2 win over Honduras on October 11, 2009,[87] he did appear as a second-half substitute in a 2–2 draw with Costa Rica four days later.[88] Rogers came on when the US were losing 2–0, and provided assists for both Michael Bradley and Jonathan Bornstein to tie the game at 2–2.[88][89] Rogers made two further appearances in friendly matches against Slovakia and Denmark in November 2009,[90][91] taking his senior team appearance tally to nine.[92]

Rogers began 2010 by featuring in two friendlies against CONCACAF rivals Honduras and El Salvador, as the US began preparing for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.[93][94] In May 2010, Bradley selected Rogers for the 30-man preliminary roster for the World Cup,[95] and he played in a warm-up friendly against Czech Republic on May 25, 2010, appearing as a second-half substitute.[96] A day later, he was one of seven players that were cut from the final squad.[97] He made one further appearance in 2010, starting in a 1–0 win over South Africa in a friendly played in Cape Town on November 17, 2010.[98]

Rogers was included in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup squad,[99] and started in a warm-up friendly against World champions Spain four days before the start of the tournament, his 14th cap.[100][101] However, he made no appearances during the tournament as the US lost out to Mexico in the final for the second consecutive time.[102] In August 2011, he scored in a 1–1 draw against Mexico in a friendly played at the Lincoln Financial Field, in Jurgen Klinsmann's first match as US head coach.[103][104] Rogers' goal came with his first touch having just come on as a substitute, prodding in Brek Shea's low cross to restore parity.[105] He went on to make three further appearances for the US in 2011, all of which in friendly matches.[106][107][108] Rogers made 18 appearances for his country, scoring two goals.[109]

Style of play[edit]

ESPN.com writer Jeff Carlisle has noted Rogers's wing play as an asset, particularly "his ability to attack defenders one-on-one", as well as his crossing ability.[110]

Career statistics[edit]

As of December 3, 2013.

Club[edit]

Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Other Total
Club Season League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
USA League US Open Cup MLS Cup CONCACAF Other Total
Columbus Crew 2007[17] MLS 10 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 10 3
2008[24] 27 6 2 0 4 1 0 0 0 0 33 7
2009[32] 22 1 0 0 2 0 7 2 0 0 31 3
2010[33] 20 1 2 0 2 1 2 1 8 0 34 3
2011[38] 27 2 1 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 31 2
Total 106 13 5 0 9 2 11 3 8 0 139 18
England League FA Cup League Cup UEFA Other Total
Leeds United 2011–12[111] Championship 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0
Total 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0
Stevenage (loan) 2012–13[112] League One 6 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 9 0
Total 6 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 9 0
USA League US Open Cup MLS Cup CONCACAF Other Total
Los Angeles Galaxy 2013[113] MLS 11 0 1 0 2 0 2 0 0 0 16 0
Total 11 0 1 0 2 0 2 0 0 0 16 0
Los Angeles Galaxy II 2014 USL Pro 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Career totals 127 13 7 0 12 2 13 3 9 0 168 18

"Other" constitutes appearances and goals in the SuperLiga and Football League Trophy.

International[edit]

National team Season Apps Goals
United States 2009[109] 9 1
2010[109] 4 0
2011[109] 5 1
Total 18 2

International goals[edit]

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. July 4, 2009 Qwest Field, Seattle, United States  Grenada 3 – 0 4 – 0 2009 Gold Cup
2. August 10, 2011 Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, United States  Mexico 1 – 1 1 – 1 Friendly

Personal life[edit]

Rogers is the son of Theresa and Robert Hampton Rogers II.[114] He has one brother, Timothy, and three sisters, Nicole Camilla, Alicia, and Katie Rose.[114] His mother's family is originally from the Columbus area where Rogers played for Columbus Crew.[114][115] His maternal grandfather is a graduate of Ohio State University and his mother spent her early childhood years in Dublin, Ohio, before the family moved to California.[8]

When growing up, Rogers enjoyed surfing, and he still surfs.[114] He also enjoys playing table tennis and has a strong interest in music.[114] Rogers states that his favorite athlete is Zlatan Ibrahimović.[114]

In February 2013, Rogers came out as gay.[116] Posting a blog entry on his website on February 15, Rogers stated, "Secrets can cause so much internal damage. People love to preach about honesty, how honesty is so plain and simple. Try explaining to your loved ones after 25 years you are gay. I always thought I could hide this secret. Football was my escape, my purpose, my identity. Football hid my secret, gave me more joy than I could have ever imagined".[117]

After basketball player Jason Collins came out as gay in April 2013, he sought out Rogers for advice on dealing with the media.[118]

Honors[edit]

Columbus Crew
Individual

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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