Rogers 3

Wait a minute! Didn’t Robbie Rogers already break this professional sports gay barrier?


Big media has put the game we love in its place today. A big news story has reminded us that Major League Soccer is, in most ways, only as “major” as the big media influencers choose to label it.

Major League Soccer is looking a little less “major” today based on the flowing narratives of the Jason Collins news.

By extension, the implication is that “soccer” isn’t a major sport in the country. TV ratings for big EPL matches, Champions League biggies and World Cup contests – not to mention the collective U.S. audiences for soccer each and every weekend when folding in viewership of Mexican matches and the sundry European offerings – tell us otherwise. But that’s too complicated for the expedient sound bites, so let’s not allow those inconvenient facts interfere with a story easily told.

It is what it is, I suppose.

Collins is the NBA center who came out Monday, and the narrative has been “first player to come out in a major U.S. sport.”

Of course, Robbie Rogers did this very thing in February. Rogers wasn’t just some “former MLS man.”  He was in the prime of his career (although struggling mightily to gain his balance in performance, probably related to his February revelation). And as Rogers had only recently tumbled in the national team scene, it would hardly be inaccurate to label him a “U.S. international,” which should elevate his place in the media zeitgeist.

There is no question that NBA is a much bigger beast in the domestic sports forest. Collins’ revelation is a bigger story, no doubt.

But shouldn’t Rogers’ revelation be part of this conversation? It didn’t seem to be as I saw the story told across most major outlets, on TV, on radio and in the online sports pages.

(MORE: Rogers’ overwhelming, inspiring support from American soccer)

At least in our world, Rogers place was recognized. For instance, Fox Soccer’s Leander Schaerlaeckens wrote about how Rogers’ story helped to pace a smoother landing strip for Collins and others still circling life’s outer markers, with the relevant mentions of David Testo and Megan Rapinoe.

But bigger media mostly ignored the same.

David Beckham was supposed to help do something about this. That was always going to be Beckham’s target and his legacy in macro, in the much larger picture: to drag MLS and pro soccer here out of niche status and into more general market awareness.

I thought Beckham had accomplished that to a reason degree. Now, I suppose, that “reasonable degree” didn’t extend as far as I thought.

EURO 2016: Who’s headed to France?

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - OCTOBER 10: Volkan Sen of Turkey in action during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group A Qualifier match between Czech Republic and Turkey at Letna Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Prague, Czech Republic. (Photo by Matej Divizna/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The group stage of qualification is complete, as 20 teams have clinched a berth at EURO 2016, which kicks off next summer in France.

The top-two finishers in each group automatically qualified, as did the best third-place side out of all the groups (Turkey). France qualified automatically as the host nation.

[ MORE: EURO 2016 roundup ]

That leaves eight third-place teams to battle for the final four spots through a play-off. The draw for the matchups will take place on October 18, and those matches will be held from November 12-17 as a home-and-home play-off.

Group A

  1. Czech Republic
  2. Iceland
  3. Turkey (automatically qualified as best third-place side)

Group B

  1. Belgium
  2. Wales
  3. Bosnia and Herzegovina (qualified for play-off)

Group C

  1. Spain
  2. Slovakia
  3. Ukraine (qualified for play-off)

Group D

  1. Germany
  2. Poland
  3. Republic of Ireland (qualified for play-off)

Group E

  1. England
  2. Switzerland
  3. Slovenia (qualified for play-off)

Group F

  1. Northern Ireland
  2. Romania
  3. Hungary (qualified for play-off)

Group G

  1. Austria
  2. Russia
  3. Sweden (qualified for play-off)

Group H

  1. Italy
  2. Croatia
  3. Norway (qualified for play-off)

Group I

  1. Portugal
  2. Albania
  3. Denmark (qualified for play-off)

EURO 2016: Dutch disaster as Netherlands fail to qualify

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - OCTOBER 13:  Robin van Persie of the Netherlands (19) reacts during the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying Group A match between the Netherlands and the Czech Republic at Amsterdam Arena on October 13, 2015 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The group stage of qualifying for the 2016 European Championship has come to a close, and one of the top teams in the world will not be playing in France next summer.

Netherlands 2-3 Czech Republic

The Netherlands finished second at the 2010 World Cup and third at the 2014 World Cup, but have failed to qualify for EURO 2016. Playing in front of a home crowd in a must-win match against the Czech Republic, the Dutch got off to a dreadful start, falling behind 2-0 as manager Danny Blind was forced to make a substitution within the opening 40 minutes. The Czech Republic was sent to ten men before the break, but an own-goal from Robin Van Persie made it 3-0 as the Dutch couldn’t recover. A disastrous result for the Netherlands, as big changes will surely come from the top down.

[ RELATED: David de Gea fighting for starting goalkeeper position with Spain ]

Italy 2-1 Norway

Italy finishes atop Group H without a loss after defeating Norway 2-1 today. Norway took the lead through Norwich City’s Alexander Tettey, but late goals from Alessandro Florenzi and Southampton’s Graziano Pelle gave the Italians all three points.

Malta 0-1 Croatia

With Norway’s loss, Croatia jumped into second place in Group H and secured qualification to EURO 2016 with a 1-0 win away at Malta. Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic scored the game’s only goal, as Croatia advances despite having one point deducted due to inappropriate actions from their fans.

Elsewhere in EURO qualifying

Group A

Turkey 1-0 Iceland
Latvia 0-1 Kazakhstan

Group B

Belgium 3-1 Israel
Wales 2-0 Andorra
Cyprus 2-3 Bosnia and Herzegovina

Group H

Bulgaria 2-0 Azerbaijan