At breakfast this morning, I mentioned writing about Robbie Rogers today.
Someone asked when the media would turn its collective gaze from this story? When would Rogers begin to be nothing more than Robbie Rogers the soccer player, not Robbie Rogers the history maker, the first openly gay male athlete in U.S. pro sports?
The answer, I think, is: about right now. And it underscores a bigger point:
The arc of this Robbie Rogers story has been dramatic – and pleasingly so. Even Rogers is now wondering “What was the big deal all along?”
After this weekend, the arc will be more or less complete. Yes, there will be some local media mentions as Rogers makes the subsequent stops for road matches; trips into Boston, Salt Lake City and San Francisco await in June.
And the national media might drag out the reigning narrative just a little longer.
But that’s pretty much it.
Consider how quickly this one rose and fell as a “talker” in our game, the entire thing playing out in just over three months. Here’s the basic Rogers’ timeline:
- Feb. 15: Rogers stuns us all, announcing on his own blog that he is gay … and that he is retiring. An overwhelming show of support from the U.S. Soccer community greets the news. Rogers is touched, but still seems far, far from any notion of returning to the game.
- March 29: The New York Times’ Sam Borden is among the first to get Rogers to talk publicly about it all. Rogers says if he returns to soccer that it will almost certainly be in MLS. So … returning to soccer might be in the plans, eh?
- April 30: Rogers surprisingly turns up, already training with the Galaxy; his MLS rights still belong to the Chicago Fire, but the possibility of a return to soccer suddenly becomes quite real. For now, it’s just training, however.
- May 5: Rogers tells myself and Soccer Today co-host Marc Stein that he will only play in Los Angeles. No offense to Chicago, he says, but the California native wants to be close to his family, his support network. He also says there “is a really good chance” of playing in MLS this year.
- Friday, May 24: The trade with Chicago that gets Rogers where he wants to be is complete. All that lacks for the left winger to make his Galaxy debut is arrival of his international transfer certificate.
- Sunday, May 27: History is made as Rogers comes on for the final 13 minutes in a Galaxy match that had long since been decided.
And just like that, Rogers had made history, retired, made headlines through publicly speaking about it all, emerged from the premature retirement and then made history again.
The Galaxy travel for a U.S. Open Cup match this week, then have five MLS matches in June, some of which will be without Irish striker Robbie Keane. And who knows when / if Landon Donovan might get that inevitable call back into the Jurgen Klinsmann’s national team.
So now we can begin, I believe, to pivot on the ruling narrative. What can Robbie Rogers, the quick left winger, do for the MLS champs as they make their way forward in title defense?