LA Galaxy defender Robbie Rogers would, perhaps one day, like to play for the US national team again. For that to happen, though, as Rogers puts it, he’ll first need to have a serious “life conversation” with USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
Klinsmann, who was something of a mentor to a young Rogers while growing up in Southern California, has yet to reach out or respond to Rogers’s repeated attempts to make contact since revealing he was gay nearly two years ago, Rogers revealed during MLS’s media day in Manhattan Beach, California, on Tuesday.
“When I was coming out, I came out to a very small group of people: my family and then some of my [former] teammates. Jurgen was one of the guys I tried to get in contact with – email, messages, stuff like that – and I haven’t heard from him.
“I don’t know how he feels about me as a soccer player. I don’t know how he feels about the whole situation, but I’m sure down the road I’ll speak with him.”
“I’ve known him since I was 12, 13 years old. So I think him and I need to have that conversation – a life conversation, if he’s interested. I think that’s more important to me than playing with the national team.
“My coming out was very personal, and I was in a really dark place in my life where I was really struggling. You know, Jurgen wrote my letter to Leeds [United in 2012], for me to get my work permit. He was one of the guys who spoke to my mom about whether I should go to [US Under-17] residency or not. He used to drive me to Galaxy training when I was younger, so he’s great, helped me throughout my career. So I think I need to have that conversation.”
Rogers last appeared for the USMNT in November 2011 — Klinsmann’s third full month in the USMNT job — as a 94th-minute substitute in a friendly against Slovenia. Since his early days as a quick, attacking winger, Rogers has seen a positional shift transform his club career with the Galaxy and make the Rogers-for-USMNT conversation we’re currently having worthwhile once again.
Now the starting left back for the 2014 MLS Cup winning Galaxy, the 27-year-old is starring for MLS’s preeminent team at a position where the USMNT player pool is currently quite thin. Fabian Johnson looks to have made the full-time move from left back to right back, DaMarcus Beasley retired from international soccer in December, and 23-year-old Greg Garza is still rough around the edges, though extremely promising.
“I’ve proven to myself, I think, I can really contribute to our national team and the way that we play. I watched the World Cup. I saw the way Jurgen wants his outside backs to play, so I think that actually suits me pretty well.”
As for the highly controversial 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which were awarded to very un-gay-friendly Russia and Qatar, Rogers says he’s actually not in favor of any kind of boycott.
“If you read [FIFA’s] mission statement on their website, it talks about using football to promote education and human rights and a ton of different things. So then to have the World Cups in countries that don’t support human rights and, especially, the LGBT community, of course that crosses my mind.
“My thought is, and people ask me about the [2014 Sochi] Olympics in Russia, I don’t think boycotting something is the way to go. I’ve learned from my experience that being present and being in the locker room is what really teaches people and creates an environment that is sensitive and aware of what’s really going on.”
Having finished reading Rogers’s book, “Coming Out to Play,” in the 48 hours, it’s not at all surprising to hear Rogers speak in favor of further reform within the game, rather than boycotting the worldwide spectacle altogether.