Robbie Rogers will be part of the L.A. Galaxy squad that travels to Cary, N.C. to face the Carolina RailHawks this Wednesday in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
According to an official with knowledge of the situation, Rogers will travel to Cary regardless of whether or not he makes his debut for the Galaxy tonight when it hosts the Seattle Sounders at The Home Depot Center.
The 26-year-old Rogers played for the Columbus Crew from 2007-11, including the 2008 team that won the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup. Rogers also had 18 caps and two goals for the U.S. National Team from 2009-11.
Rogers left Columbus to join Leeds United in 2011, where he played sparingly over two injury-hampered seasons. He also appeared nine times during a loan stint with League One side Stevenage from August 2012 through last January.
In February, Rogers announced that he is gay and retired from competitive soccer. However, in April he decided to return to Major League Soccer (MLS) and began training with the Galaxy. However, the Chicago Fire acquired Rogers’ player rights from Columbus in February, and Rogers publicly stated he would not play for the Fire.
This week, the Galaxy and Fire finalized a trade for Rogers that sent Galaxy forward Mike Magee to Chicago. Rogers was introduced to the Los Angeles media yesterday, and today the Galaxy announced the club has formally received his International Transfer Certificate, making him officially eligible to make his Galaxy debut as early as tonight against the Sounders, a game that will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 11:00 p.m. ET.
When Rogers makes his debut, he will become the first openly gay male athlete to compete in an American professional team sport.
The news that Rogers will travel to Cary and may feature against the RailHawks is unsurprising from a soccer viewpoint. Many MLS clubs, particularly the Galaxy, field squads comprising second-stringers and reservists during their early U.S. Open Cup matches. Moreover, Galaxy manager Bruce Arena recently groused about his team being “shuffled off” to North Carolina for their third round Open Cup match. However, despite Rogers’ player pedigree and recent heightened profile, he has seen little competitive action over the past 12 months and none since January. A midweek Cup match provides an opportunity for Rogers to work toward getting match fit.
The Carolina RailHawks and L.A. Galaxy kick off this Wednesday, May 29 at 7:00 p.m. at WakeMed Soccer Park.