Robbie Rogers is returning to MLS and is set to become the league's first active openly gay player, as first reported by USA Today Sports.
The 26-year-old midfielder came out in a post on his personal blog in February. In that same post, Rogers, who has appeared 18 times for the U.S. men's national team and starred for the Columbus Crew before a stint in England, also announced his decision to "step away" from the sport.
Just weeks after NBA veteran Jason Collins came out, Rogers is reportedly coming back. As reported by USA Today on Friday, Rogers has agreed to terms with the L.A. Galaxy. Clearing the way for this reported deal is a trade between the defending MLS champions and the Chicago Fire, who held Rogers' MLS rights. Steven Goff of the Washington Post reported via Twitter that a deal has been struck, with Mike Magee heading from L.A. to Chicago in exchange for Rogers.
It's happening, 2nd source says: Magee for Rogers, straight up #mls
— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) May 25, 2013
Neither the Galaxy of Fire confirmed the transaction on Friday but the L.A. did announce a press conference for Saturday.
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) May 25, 2013
Although the Fire held Rogers' MLS rights after a trade with the Crew in February. The former University of Maryland star made it clear that he did not want to continue his career in Chicago, making this reported trade a key step in his return.
"I don't want to go to Chicago," Rogers, a California native, told ESPN Radio in May, via ESPN.com. "I think if it comes down to you can only play in Chicago, then I probably won't go back. I need to do it somewhere where I'm totally 100 percent comfortable so ... I would most likely do it closest to my family. … I'm not closing the doors or saying no to anyone else that I've talked to but ... that would be my priority."
In preparation of his return and foreshadowing this move to Los Angeles, Rogers began training with the Galaxy in April. At the time, MLS Commissioner Don Garber was quite clear that he hoped a return was imminent.
"We'd love to see Robbie back in the league, regardless of the announcement that he made when he was over in England," Garber told reporters in Columbus at the time, via Goal.com. "He's a great player. When young, aspiring national team players leave, I believe it's something that's positive for the sport overall, but I want those players in Major League Soccer."
Speaking with USA Today Sports, Rogers said he was inspired to return to soccer while attending the Nike Be True LGBT Youth Forum in Portland in April.
"I 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?"
UPDATE: Rogers confirmed his return to MLS to The Associated Press. Speaking with the AP, Rogers credited support from fans, friends and players, notably Galaxy teammate Landon Donovan, in making his decision.
"I don't know what I was so afraid of," he said.