Robbie Rogers revealed Friday that he is gay and retiring from professional soccerbut he's still welcome to play for the Chicago Fire, which acquired the MLS rights to Rogers in January as part of a trade with the Columbus Crew.
"Yesterday I thought he was a very good player and I still think that today. Should Robbie want to return to the game, we would still be open to him being part of the Fire," Chicago Fire head coach Frank Klopas told the team's website, Chicago-Fire.com .
Rogers, 25, played for the Crew from 2007-11 before taking his game overseas to play in England for Leeds United and Stevenage. Rogers blogged Friday from London that he is gay and that he "could not be happier" with his decision to retire.
"Secrets can cause so much internal damage," Rogers wrote in the coming-out blog. "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.
"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. … I will always be thankful for my career. I will remember Beijing, the MLS Cup, and most of all my teammates. I will never forget the friends I have made a long the way and the friends that supported me once they knew my secret."
Rogers won the MLS Cup with Columbus in 2008, has played 18 games for the U.S. Men's National Team, and played on the U.S. Olympic Team in the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Rogers wrote that he plans to step away from the sport and "discover myself."
"Life is so full of amazing things. I realized I could only truly enjoy my life once I was honest. Honesty is a [expletive] but makes life so simple and clear. My secret is gone, I am a free man, I can move on and live my life as my creator intended."
David Testo, a fellow gay professional soccer player, wrote "CONGRATS ROBBIE!!!" on Facebookand Testo's post received about 200 LIKES in three hours.
Hudson Taylor, the straight founder and executive director at Athlete Ally, wrote on Facebook: "Very proud of Robbie Rogers for having the courage to come out!"
Kyle Palmer, 28, who lives in Uptown and has played indoor and outdoor soccer in Chicago's gay soccer league for five years, said he is proud of Rogers for coming out, praised his on-field abilities, but also expressed disappointment that he is retiring.
"[It] kind of sucks [he] decided to stop playing," Palmer said. "He is a very, very, very good player."
When told that the Fire has Rogers' MLS rights, Palmer replied, "That's awesomehe would do well [with the Fire.] If he came back [to play] for Chicago, that'd be huge."
Palmer added that the MLS "could use someone like him, especially after some anti-gay [comments hit the MLS last season.] I think he'd do pretty well for himself [back in the MLS.]"
Rogers' coming-out was written about prominently on the homepage of the MLS webpage, and the league even discussed its own anti-gay incidents, writing: "And, of course, we had our own [anti-gay] moments here in MLS last season, when two players were suspended for using a gay slur on the playing field. BothColin Clark, now with the LA Galaxy, and Marc Burch of the Seattle Soundersapologized profusely. Both showed remorse, and did volunteer work aimed toward promoting tolerance and understanding."