A little more than three months after coming out and retiring from soccer in an open letter to fans on his blog, Robbie Rogers is reportedly returning to the pitch.
UPDATE: Saturday, May 25th, at 3:50 p.m. ET by Kyle Vassalo
The Chicago Fire's official team site released a statement on the deal:
"The Chicago Fire Soccer Club announced Saturday the team has acquired midfielder Mike Magee from the Los Angeles Galaxy in exchange for the right of first refusal to U.S. international Robbie Rogers and other considerations. Per Major League Soccer and club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed."
Chicago Fire President of Soccer Operation Javier Leon speaks about the deal with the Galaxy:
“We initially acquired the rights to Robbie Rogers because we think he is a great player. As he expressed his interest in being home near his family, we’re happy to have worked out a deal with the Galaxy that will benefit all parties. We wish Robbie all the best with the Galaxy.”
---End of update---
USA Today's Mike Foss and Erik Brady first reported the 26-year-old Rogers will join the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer next season. He will become the first openly gay player in MLS history.
There are no details on Rogers' contract, and neither the Galaxy nor Rogers have released an official statement about the signing at this time. The Chicago Fire currently hold Rogers' MLS rights, so there will be more details forthcoming about the agreement.
Rogers, a winger who last played for Stevenage on loan from Leeds United, retired from professional soccer in February after revealing his homosexuality. When announcing his retirement, he wrote at length about the difficulties faced in hiding his sexuality from the public and what a toll it took on him:
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. Try convincing yourself that your creator has the most wonderful purpose for you even though you were taught differently.
However, Rogers' stance on a return to the pitch has changed in recent weeks. He's trained with the Galaxy since early in the month and has made it clear that is the only MLS franchise he had true ties to.
When asked whether he would even consider joining the Fire, Rogers said he would probably not return if that was forced upon him.
"I don’t want to go to Chicago," said Rogers (via Pro Soccer Talk). "I think if it comes down to you can only play in Chicago, then I probably won’t go back."
With an agreement in place to send him to Los Angeles, Rogers can go on with his career and goal of inspiring gay youth. Speaking with USA Today, Rogers said his comeback decision stemmed from a visit with Portland's Nike Be True LGBT Youth Forum in April.
"I seriously felt like a coward," Rogers said. "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?"
Rogers also said he hopes to join the United States Men's National Team to inspire gay youth. He was a member of the senior club from 2009-11, making 18 appearances and scoring two goals.
While Rogers actually came out first, many will be quick to compare the United winger to NBA center Jason Collins. The 34-year-old Collins became the first active openly homosexual athlete in the United States' "Big Four" male professional sports leagues via a first-person story written for Sports Illustrated.
In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter who was first. Collins and Rogers have started the conversation regarding the acceptance of homosexuality in sports and will serve as inspiration to youth dealing with the same issues.