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.”
LA Galaxy II head coach Curt Onalfo says Ariel Lassiter has the tools to be a "big time player" at the USL PRO and MLS level
CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy II bolstered their attack on Sunday by signing Ariel Lassiter who is the son of former MLS goal scoring legend Roy Lassiter.
The 20-year-old attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2013 where he appeared in 21 games, tallying five goals and four assists. Lassiter’s efforts helped him earn the Big West Conference All-Freshman team. A year later, Lassiter made the move to Sweden with Superettan side GAIS where he made 12 appearances with a single goal.
But before he was succeeding in Europe, Onalfo noticed during his time at Cal Poly that Lassiter had the talent to contribute on not only a USL PRO level, but an MLS level as well.
“He’s a talented attacking player who is very fast. He’s very polished and when I watched him play in college two years ago, he came on as a reserve, and as soon he stepped on the field, I thought ‘whoa who is this kid,’” Onalfo recalled to LA Galaxy Insider. “Soon I realized that he was Roy’s son. You could just see that he has all the physical and technical tools to be a big time player. Now it’s just about teaching him the right way to do it and watching him progress.
“The kid is very talented and it’s going to be exciting project to watch him grow and watch him develop.”
CARSON, Calif. -- Dan Gargan entered the 2014 preseason unsure if he'll have a job and now a year later, he's signed a deal that will keep him in LA another year.
The club announced that they have re-signed the 32-year-old defender twho played in a total of 35 games in all competitions as the Galaxy won a fifth MLS Cup title, to a multi-year deal. A veteran outside back, Gargan played primarily on the right side of defense in 2014 while also seeing some action along the left side when needed.
Once preseason begins, Gargan will again likely slot in as the back-up right back behind fellow veteran A.J. DeLaGarza while serving as the primary right back when DeLaGarza is placed in the middle. Unlikely last year, however, he'll likely face compeition from youngster Oscar Sorto who is currently in camp with the U.S. National Team.
Landon Donovan says he can't think of a better player to join the LA Galaxy than Liverpool's Steven Gerrard
PHILADELPHIA – Count retired LA Galaxy legend Landon Donovan among those who were impressed by the club’s ability to acquire Liverpool FC and former England captain Steven Gerrard to replace him as the team’s third Designated Player.
In an interview with LA Galaxy Insider after the announcement that Major League Soccer will be naming their Most Valuable Player award, the “Landon Donovan MVP trophy,” Donovan said that he was immensely pleased when he heard LA had signed the 34-year-old English soccer star.
“I was incredibly impressed with the [Galaxy’s] ability to bring in a player like Steven Gerrard and that, he’s the quality of player that they wanted,” Donovan said. “When I played at Everton [Liverpool’s arch rival], Everton fans hate Liverpool players and Liverpool fans, but Steven Gerrard was the one player that everyone respected on both sides. Everyone in the Premier League has so much respect for him and I can’t think of a better person to come here and hopefully lead the team to a sixth trophy next year.”
Bruce Arena tells ESPN FC that Marcelo Sarvas trade provides LA Galaxy with "flexibility" to build 2015 roster
PHILADELPHIA -- The LA Galaxy dealt one of chief contributors to their 2014 MLS Cup title run on Thursday by trading Marcelo Sarvas to the Colorado Rapids, but the club now appears primed to replace the departing Brazilian with another top tier talent.
LA dealt Sarvas and an international roster spot to the Rapids on Thursday in a move that saw the Galaxy move up to the third spot on the league's allocation order. Reports have swirled that move will allow the Galaxy to acquire U.S. international Sacha Kljestan, a player who has long been on the club's radar. According to ESPN FC's Jeff Carlisle, the deal should allow the Galaxy the freedom to acquire Kljestan or any other returning U.S. international as neither the two teams ahead of them in the ranking, the Montreal Impact and San Jose Earthquakes are expected to impede LA's plans.
In addition to Arena speaking out about the Brazilian midfielder's departure, Sarvas' partner in central midfield Juninho also addressed his departure via his personal instagram.
"Marcelo, I want to wish you the best of luck in the next step of your life. Thank you for teaching me a lot of things about soccer, especially never giving up no matter the situation. You are a very good player and an example of dedication and companionship," Juninho said. "We were a good duo. It was a pleasure to play and live by your side and to know you in and off the field. Good luck to you in your next new club. LA, my family and I gonna miss you, Champion.'
Marcelo I want to wish you the best of luck in the next step of your life. Thank you for teaching me a lot of things about soccer, especially never giving up no matter the situation. You are a very good player and an example of dedication and companionship. We were a good duo. It was a pleasure to play and live by your side and to know you in and off the field. Good luck to you in your next new club. LA, my family and I gonna miss you Champion / Marcelo Eu quero te desejar muita sorte neste próximo passo da tua vida. Obrigado por me ensinar muitas coisas sobre o futebol , especialmente de nunca me der por vencido não importa a situação. Você é jogador diferenciado um exemplo de dedicação e companheirismo. Fomos uma excelente dupla juntos. Foi um prazer jogar e viver ao teu lado e de conhecer você dentro e fora de campo. Boa sorte no teu novo clube. LA , minha família e eu vamos sentir saudades de você Campeão. @marcelosarvas
Marcelo Sarvas was an integral part of the LA Galaxy’s 2014 MLS Cup Championship campaign, but various reports are stating that the midfielder be on the move as part of a series of deals that could see Sacha Kljestan come to the StubHub Center.
Goal.com’s Ives Galarcep and ESPN FC’s Jeff Carlisle reported this week that with the Galaxy interested in signing Kljestan who is currently out of contract with Belgian club Anderlecht, Sarvas could be moved as part of a deal to acquire the Huntington Beach native. If Kljestan does sign with MLS, he will be subject to the league’s allocation order which would require interested parties—reported to be LA, New York Red Bulls,Philadelphia Union, and Seattle Sounders FC—to trade up with the Montreal Impact, who currently hold the top spot.
Sources confirmed both reports by Goal and ESPN FC that the Brazilian midfielder is seeking a pay raise after his stellar 2014 season, despite Sarvas having one more year on his current contract. Carlisle reported that during the league’s draft combine that several coaches said that would be interested in Sarvas if he were to become available by the Galaxy, including San Jose Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear who’s side holds the second spot in the allocation order.
Kinnear even addressed potential interest with a brief comment to Carlisle.
CARSON, Calif. – The signing Steven Gerrard represents a major addition for the LA Galaxy, but just where does the Englishman fit in an already stacked LA midfield?
The Galaxy lifted their fifth MLS Cup on the strength of one of – if not the best—midfield in Major League Soccer which was anchored by the Brazilian tandem of Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas. Meanwhile on the flanks, a hodgepodge of Landon Donovan, Baggio Husidic and Stefan Ishizaki provided width to a Galaxy attack that scored a league-high 69 goals during the regular season.
At the height of his powers, Gerrard was one of Europe’s best midfielders with ability to not only provide defensive cover, but also create chances on his own due to his unparalleled work rate. In more recent times, Gerrard has settled into a holding midfield role that has allowed him to orchestrate from deeper in the parking and use his pinpoint passing to open up chances for teammates across the field.
Considering that at 35, Gerrard does not have the same engine that he had at his peak, Bruce Arena may opt to use the Englishman in defensive midfield capacity ala David Beckham in his final two seasons with the club.
What does Arena himself think? Well, the Galaxy head coach and general manager isn’t focusing on it just yet.
“I’m not spending a whole lot of time thinking about that right now,” said Arena during the team’s media availability after announcing the signing. “We have seven months or so until Stevie arrives here in Los Angeles and we’re going to play out the process of our team. We’ll see how it moves forward and see how we’re ready to utilize Stevie once he gets here.”
But now I’ll give you an option to predict the Galaxy’s next midfield. Below are a series of midfield combinations and I’ll allow you to decide which midfield you’d like to see lineup when Gerrard arrives. Obviously, the list is hardly exhaustive so add your own midfield combos in the comment section beneath.
It's officially official. Steven Gerrard is a member of the LA Galaxy.
The club announced on Wednesday morning that Gerrard will be joining the club upon the conclusion of Liverpool FC's 2014-15 English Premier League campaign and will be eligible to play for the club when the transfer window opens up in July. Per club and league policy, the details of the contract were not disclosed.
Stefan Ishizaki was heralded as a potential third attacking weapon in the LA Galaxy attack when he was signed last offseason, and while the Swede never truly blossomed into that type of offensive asset, he still put forth a strong season as he helped LA to a championship.
Appearing in all but four games during the entirety of the Galaxy’s MLS slate, Ishizaki’s ball skills played an important role in helping create the Galaxy’s possession-oriented offense that tallied a league-leading 69 goals in 2014. Ishizaki’s abilities led the Galaxy to trot the Swede out at the top of a midfield diamond early on in the season before he transitioned to a steady role as an attacking option along the left side of midfield as LA pushed toward their trophy. In total, Ishizaki ended the season with five goals and eight assists in all league competition in his first full season
With Landon Donovan gone, Ishizaki is among several will need to shoulder the burden left by the retiring U.S. soccer star during the 2015 season. If Ishizaki can truly become a true offensive weapon alongside Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes, the Galaxy will have every opportunity to retain their MLS Cup title.
How would you rate Ishizaki’s 2014 campaign? Read my review of the LA Galaxy midfielders on LAGalaxy.com while also voting and commenting below.
CARSON, Calif. – No member of the LA Galaxy showed more growth and progress in 2015 than outside back Robbie Rogers.
In 2013, Rogers struggled with injuries en route to a disappointing season while also dealing with the scrutiny of being the first openly gay professional athlete in a major American sport. A year later, the story was far different for the 26-year-old as Rogers settled into a new role as the club’s left back amid injuries to veteran options Todd Dunivant and James Riley. At the end of the season, Rogers solidified himself as one of the finest left backs in MLS as he was a vital part in the LA Galaxy’s MLS Cup winning squad with 24 appearances in all MLS competitions with three assists.
As important as 2014 was for the defender, 2015 could be even bigger for Rogers as he looks to not further his development as an outside back, but also continue his push for a place on the U.S. National Team. With Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad needing depth at left back ahead of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup in light of DaMarcus Beasley’s international retirement, Rogers may find a spot in the USMNT’s depth chart.
How would you rate Robbie Rogers' 2014 performance? Read my review of the LA Galaxy defenders while voting and commenting below.