League

20 February 6:39 pm

Life is a process of continual evolution for LA Galaxy defender Robbie Rogers both on the field and off.

In my latest piece for LAGalaxy.com, I spoke to Rogers about his attempt to reconnect with U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann and the defender’s perceptions on his legacy as the first openly gay athlete in a major American professional sport. However not all of my conversation with Rogers made the story. 

Below are other excerpts from Rogers discussing his book Coming out to Play and his continued growth as a soccer player and a person.

(On his decision to write his book…)

ROGERS: It was definitely more about – After I came out publicly and had that relation from people which was something that I didn’t think would happen in a million years, I realized that I could write a book about my story which so many people can relate to. The biggest difference that I’ve made is just being on the field and then afterward writing a book and going into detail and exposing a vulnerable part of myself helps as much as being on the field and playing.

 (On his transformation as a gay athlete…)

ROGERS: “For me, it was about first whether my teammates respected me and if they did respect me and enjoyed playing with me. Of course, you want to accomplish things on the field. This year, especially, I was never thinking of myself as a gay athlete. That’s the big difference between 2013 and 2014, last year I was on the road and I was the only gay guy and I had to deal with that which wasn’t because of how I was treated by the team but what I was dealing with. This year, there were so many times where it just wasn’t even an issue. I never had to talk about it. This year, I realized that when the book was coming out then but I would just not think about it.”

(On how Rogers ultimately hopes that he’s remembered when he decides to retire…)

ROGERS: I hope that I have a good enough career and I’m successful enough that people just think about me as a player on the Galaxy who helped win championships and played for good teams. I hope teammates like Landon, Robbie and Omar can remember me as a guy on their team who was a good soccer player and a good person, regardless of me being gay or straight.

(On whether he understands the conceptual change within him…)

ROGERS:  I was so introverted and I was so afraid to have close relationships because I was afraid that people would get to know me. I was afraid to be this crazy person on the dance floor. I was so afraid of so many things and this year, it was so completely different and I’m so happy that I’m able to enjoy it. After all, if you can’t enjoy winning a championship, what is the point of being a professional soccer player? What’s the point of being successful in any career if you can’t enjoy the little moments where you have a triumph.  I think a lot of people can’t enjoy moments because they want to move onto what’s next, but I know that in that moment especially after what happened a few years earlier, I just had to cry. I was happy to show that emotion to them as well that they see that he’s human.

(On the distinct difference between how he acted as a child and today…)

ROGERS: It’s really sad. It’s so sad how depressed and how homophobic I was to myself. I was simply isolated and alone, and afraid to share this side to anyone even myself. It’s been two years since I came out and it’s incredible how different things have been. My family wasn’t ready to support same sex marriage but now they can’t wait till I get married. It’s crazy how things change so quickly. I can’t explain that. It’s really changed overnight.

(On whether he expected any anger from his stories in the book…)

ROGERS: This is all a learning experience. Everything in the book is the truth but I’ve just been supported by everyone that I spoke about in the book. I was able to then come out and move back to the states and go through everything that I went to. I heard the most ridiculous things from people who love me so much and I realized that they’re not homophobic  they say things because their church tells them to or to make people around them laugh or they’re supposed to. I learned that people aren’t homophobic but have this pack mentality which I was part of when I was younger.

(On dealing with the locker room mentality and the focus that has gotten since his announcement…)

ROGERS:  When you live that your life, you’ve seen in it. Whether it was Columbus or Leeds or Holland or college or even when I was younger in High School, you hear on a daily basis that you shouldn’t be such an [expletive] or don’t be so gay. These are really things that you think when you are gay and you are raised that is wrong and you hear them, it slowly chips away at you. It makes you feel like you ever accept that side of you that something will change and they might not accept you.  It scared the [expletive] out of me.

(On how his own insecurities played into the writing of his book…)

ROGERS: I didn’t know the book would be so therapeutic. Just sitting with Eric and writing and talking for hours and hours helped me realized that I was raised for so long in an environment where I couldn’t express myself. I’m still really bad at expressing myself and being open with people because for 20 years, I wasn’t. Nothing changes over night. But Eric would say to me that he’s 50 and he’s still working on all his flaws. I didn’t realize that was going to happen or take place. Our hope was to write a book that would reach people that had a gay son or knew someone that was gay and could read this and pass it along, but also help that person [that was reading]through whatever they were dealing with.

(On a unique experience speaking to people a book signing at a Los Angeles CostCo...)

ROGERS: Usually when you have an appearance or a book signing, people know who you are but at Costco, they don’t have a connection [with a gay person]. People were coming up to me asking who I and I’d tell them, they’d sit there and read the book. They’d stand there and just keep reading then tell me ‘oh my gosh, this is a great story. It’s so great that you’re doing” then they ended up buying a copy and telling me, I’m going to read this or give it to someone else and pass it along. I thought that this is great because not all these people are gay but they can read the story and connect to it. They realize that it’s about someone who has a coming out experience that feels isolated and depressed at some point. They can pick the book up and relate to it. That was our hope, to connect with people that weren’t necessarily in the LGBT community but felt that they had a coming out (either they had a divorce or changed religions and had to confront their family about it) we knew that.”

(On his perceptions on the frustrating 2013 season with the Galaxy…)

ROGERS:  It was weird. Even last year, I thought to myself that I hope other people come out because I didn’t want to be the only gay athlete. I remember that 2013 was tough. I remember saying to my family that even when you come out, everything isn’t great. You’re still struggling with a lot of things. This year was more about finding a balance and being at peace with what I’m doing. I’m not just a gay athlete, I play for the Galaxy, I’m a left back and we have a good team. It was more than just that. It was just figuring out my life and being comfortable. I had just come out six months before I started playing with the Galaxy. It’s not like you just come out and you’ve solved everything in life because you’re still a 20-something trying to figure stuff out. But the book did help me figure out stuff about myself.”

18 February 10:50 am

CARSON, Calif. -- LA Galaxy II forward Ariel Lassiter has been selected to represent the Costa Rica Under-23 squad at the upcoming IMG Suncoast Pro Classic in Bradenton, Fla. from Feb.18-28.

The native of Turrialba, Costa Rica was signed by Galaxy II in January for the upcoming 2015 USL season. A Big West All-freshman team selection during his only year at Cal Poly in 2014, Lassiter last played with Swedish second division club GAIS where he made 12 appearances scoring one goal. 

During the tournament, the Costa Rican Under-23's will face MLS sides Columbus Crew SC, Philadelphia Union, New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC as well as OKC Energy FC (USL), HB Koge (Denmark), and London United, which is a team made up of out of contract players.

The tournament will serve as a tune-up for this summer's CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying tournament which will be held in the United States from October 1-13. The top two teams will qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil while the third place team will face Colombia in a two-leg playoff in Brazil in March 2016. 

All IMG Suncoast Pro Classic games will be streamed live on www.imgsuncoastproclassic.com.
 
12 February 6:27 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- Gyasi Zardes returned to the LA Galaxy before the team's trip to Europe loaded with confidence after his successful stint with the U.S. National Team. 

During the USMNT's annual Winter camp, Zardes made his first two appearances for the national side including an influential start during their 2-0 victory over Panama last Sunday. Following two days off after a month-long training camp, Zardes rejoined the Galaxy where he admitted that he was feeling an extra pep in his step. 

"This preseason has been wonderful for me. Just jumping in a new environment [with the USMNT]," said Zardes. "You always gain confidence the more you play, no matter what team you play on. Being with the camp helped me grow. My method is once you find rhythm try to keep it. Bring that to a new atmosphere. I’m just trying to get better and take advantage of every opportunity I get. Stay humble and level-headed. That’s how I grow."

11 February 3:10 pm

CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena will have an opportunity to meet with new Designated Player Steven Gerrard for the first time during the club’s trip through Europe.

The Galaxy head coach and general manager will meet with Gerrard for the first time during the Galaxy trip to Europe and also attend Liverpool’s Europa League knockout round match against Beşiktaş on Feb. 19 at Anfield. Gerrard is unlikely to suit up as he is expected to miss the next three weeks due to a hamstring injury.  

“Yes, I will meet with him,” Arena said. “We’ll just have an opportunity to talk, about our club and expectations, those types of things.”

Arena and the rest of the Galaxy brass famously signed Gerrard without a face-to-face meet as the club needed just phone conversations to secure Gerrard's signature

11 February 12:47 pm

Jair Marrufo was named the head referee for the LA Galaxy's MLS regular season opener against Chicago Fire on March 6 at StubHub Center. 

The Professional Referee Organization made the announcement official on Tuesday that El Paso, Texas native will ref the league's 2015 season opener. Marrufo will be joined by assistant referees Frank Anderson and Corey Rockwell, and fourth official Alejandro Mariscal. 

Maurrfo presided over 16 MLS regular season games in 2014 and two LA Galaxy MLS Cup Playoff games including their 5-0 victory over Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Semifinal and their Western Conference Championship second leg match against Seattle Sounders FC. 

10 February 5:08 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy Academy Under-18's will participate in the Dallas Cup Gordon Jago Super Group for a third consecutive year, the Academy announced on Twitter on Tuesday. 

LA participated in the Super Group during both the 2013 and 2014 campaigns with such players as Jose Villarreal, Jack McBean, Bradford Jamieson IV, Raul Mendiola, and Oscar Sorto taking part. Representatives with Dallas Cup and the LA Galaxy confirmed the tweets validity. 

This year, the Galaxy will join two Brazilian clubs (Coritiba and Corinthians), a pair of Liga MX sides (Monterrey and Tigres UNAL), English Premier League side Everton, and Argentine giants River Plate. 

10 February 3:07 pm

CARSON, Calif. – Bradford Jamieson IV and the U.S. Under-20’s learned their opponents for this summer’s U-20 World Cup in New Zealand late Monday night.

The U.S. was drawn into Group A alongside hosts New Zealand as well as Myanmar and Ukraine. Tab Ramos’ squad will open the tournament against Myanmar in Whangarei on May 30 before facing the Kiwis on June 2 in Auckland. They'll end the group stage just three days later against Ukraine.

“It was a good draw for us,” Jamieson told LA Galaxy Insider on Tuesday. “We’re going to be playing against the hosts so obviously it’ll be a good game with a great turnout. We know that no team can be taken lightly and if we are considered the favorites then we have to prove everyone right and top the group.”

Heading into a tournament as favorites is nothing new for the U.S. U-20’s as they entered into the 2015 U-20 CONCACAF Championship as top favorites to not only advance but win the group. However, the competition hardly went according to plan as the U.S. needed to defeat El Salvador in a playoff match to lock down a World Cup berth.

According to Jamieson that experience should aid the U.S. side as they look to make a name for themselves in New Zealand.

“[That tournament] just goes to show that anything can happen in these tournaments,” said Jamieson who scored two goals in six appearances at the CONCACAF qualifying tournament. “Those teams came from smaller countries like some of the teams in our World Cup group so they’re coming to prove themselves. It’ll be a place where our players can showcase our talents to the world.”

Soon after returning from Jamaica, the 18-year-old quickly put himself in the conversation for the Galaxy’s left midfield role with strong shift against Seattle Sounders FC in a preseason scrimmage. But despite his recent success, Jamieson understands that there is still plenty of work to be done before he locks down a spot on Ramos’ final roster for New Zealand.

“My mentality has to be on point and my physicality has to be as close to 100 percent as possible,” said Jamieson. “I just need to keep working hard and stick to what I know and do what I’ve been doing to get to where I am now.

“It gives me confidence that Bruce has been giving me time in the [left midfield position] because obviously I want to continue to prove them right and give back to the team and the club. I just want to keep working so that I can solidify my spot in that position.”

10 February 9:37 am

Landon Donovan is certainly keeping busy in his retirement as the LA Galaxy and U.S. Soccer legend dropped a retirement update on Facebook on Tuesday morning. 

Major League Soccer's all-time scoring king who had the league's Most Valuable Player trophy named after him less than a month ago has been traveling across the world in recent weeks including trips to India and the Maldives after returning from the Galaxy's Herbalife promotion trip of South America last December. The 32-year-old who retired after helping the LA Galaxy win MLS Cup in December also announced that he's intending to enroll in college as he seeks to complete a long stated goal of a college degree. 

But the biggest news of the post was that Donovan has announced his engagement to his long term girlfiend Hannah. 

"I'm in the process of enrolling in college and have started many other exciting ventures that I've always been passionate about," he said in the Facebook update. "Lastly, and most importantly, I recently got engaged to the love of my life, Hannah. I have never been this happy and I'm excited for our future together!"

Congratulate Donovan and see the full post below. 

 

 

07 February 5:16 pm

CARSON, Calif. – Robbie Rogers excelled with the LA Galaxy as a left back last season, but during Friday’s 2-1 scrimmage victory over Seattle Sounders FC, he showcased his versatility.

Rogers started and went 45 minutes at right back while Todd Dunivant started along the left side. The switch allowed Dunivant to slide into his natural position while Rogers—who is naturally right footed—was slide into a new place along the back four.

"That's an option and obviously we're in preseason, we'll look at all options,” Arena told reporters of the outside back switch. “As we experienced last year during the season, we have to have players prepared to play a number of spots along the back line and that's a good exercise for us to get in today.”

Added Rogers, “I can play on both sides wherever Bruce needs me. It is a little different in terms of finding the space on the field so I have to get used to that, but it comes pretty quickly.

For Dunivant, Rogers’ move to the flank could be his path back into the starting lineup after an injury-riddled 2014 season.

“It is still the preseason so we’re still trying to figure out what combination works. It’s all about getting better,” he said. “I need to earn the spot in training and continue to learn every day and get better. I’ll let the cards fall where they may and I think if I’m healthy and Robbie is healthy then we’ll both be on the field one way or the other.”

Decisions on trialists upcoming

The LA Galaxy will likely have a decision on whether they will keep trialists Andre Auras, Edson Buddle and Ramon Martin Del Campo with the club prior to the trip to Europe.

In an interview with reporters earlier this week, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said that a decision was a possibility before the team departs for the Republic of Ireland at the end of the week.

Draft picks Ignacio Maganto and Daniel Keller are expected to travel to Europe while injured goalkeeper Andrew Wolverton will not join the team until they return from Europe. Meanwhile, defender Daniel Steres who had been training with the club since the start of the season has been dealing with a calf injury.

A.J. DeLaGarza may return to practice next week

Right back A.J. DeLaGarza has yet to suit up for the Galaxy in a scrimmage during the preseason due to a leg injury, but head coach Bruce Arena assured reporters earlier this week that he'll be back in practice before the team departs for Europe.

"It's possible that he'll be training next week," Arena told reporters after the club's 2-1 victory over Seattle Sounders FC. "We're not sure yet at this point."

07 February 12:21 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- Many have taken U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann to task for his recent comments about the fitness of members of the  U.S. National Team, but LA Galaxy striker Gyasi Zardes believes that he is a true success story of Klinsmann's conditioning program. 

Superior fitness has long been the hallmark of American soccer players, but  Klinsmann called that into question following the team's 3-2 defeat to Chile last week , leading to considerable condemnation from former players and the American soccer media. In a interview earlier this week, Klinsmann stated that the reason the U.S. has won just a single match in their last nine and suffered repeated late game collapses were because of the team's lack of emphasis on offseason fitness preparation

"I want to help them get back into shape, get back into rhythm, but, oh, by the way, we're going to play [two friendlies]. So some learned over time and prepared themselves really well, and some don't have that knowledge yet," Klinsmann said.  “They don't have that 'oh, OK, at the beginning of December, go to Athletes' Performance in Phoenix and get myself fit.' That culture we don't have yet. What the other sports are doing really well, they use their preparation for preseason, four to six weeks prior to going into preseason with their NBA team, NFL team of whatever, they go to these fitness institutes and they get themselves fit.”

Klinsmann's claims were met with major pushback from numerous places including by former national team defender Alexi Lalas but such condemnation of Klinsmann meant little to LA Galaxy striker Gyasi Zardes who is in camp with the national team and is expected to play a major role when they take on Panama on Sunday at StubHub Center.

In fact, Zardes believes that he's gotten even fitter just by training with the U.S. over the last month. 

"Fitness is a key component of the game because you need to be good for 90 minutes. I'm glad that we do a lot of fitness with the national team and it's wonderful to experience different types of fitness because each coach has different methods. [Jurgen's] philosphy toward fitness is incredible," Zardes told LA Galaxy Insider.  "I personally think that it is helping me improve as a player because I feel myself able to run longer. My stamina is up and my acceleration is growing even more. I think that I'm growing in this field."