US Soccer Player Reveals He is Gay, will Leave Game

LONDON — Robbie Rogers, a former winger with the U.S. national team who played prep soccer at Mater Dei High, said Friday he was stepping away from the sport after revealing that he is gay.

In the final analysis, Rogers said, he had to choose between being himself and being a soccer player.

He choose to be himself.

“I always thought I could hide this secret,” Rogers, 25, wrote in a powerful post on his blog.

“Football was my escape, my purpose, my identity. Football hid my secret, gave me more joy than I could ever have imagined ….

“Now is my time to step away. It’s time to discover myself away from football.”

Rogers played for two U.S. age-group national teams and was called up to the senior team in 2008 during qualifying for the World Cup. He appeared in 18 games for the U.S., scoring twice.

He also played for Heerenveen of the Dutch Eredivisie, the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer — where he was named to the MLS’ First XI in 2008 — and Leeds United of English soccer’s second-division Championship.

Most recently he was on loan to England’s Stevenage of the tier-three League One, where he appeared in nine matches.

After Rogers’ blog post — which he said was written at 1 a.m. in London — was published, social media lit up with messages of support and congratulation.

“Much love and respect for you,” tweeted U.S. teammate Herculez Gomez, a sentiment echoed by D.C. United’s Chris Pontius. Women’s national team star Abby Wambach, Juan Agudelo of Chivas USA and Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez also weighed in. “Couldn’t be happier for you!” wrote Wambach.

Eddie Pope, a three-time World Cup player for the U.S. added: “Brave men like you will make it so that one day there’s no need for an announcement. That day can’t arrive soon enough.”

In his blog Rogers says he will “step away” from soccer but doesn’t say for how long nor does he specifically mention retirement. No active U.S. player in a major professional team sport has continued to play after coming out as gay.

Most recently, soccer player David Testo, then playing for the second-tier Montreal Impact, came out shortly after his contract expired following the 2011 season and that effectively ended his career with no other team stepping up to offer to sign him.

By Kevin Baxter/LA Times

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