Galaxy fans cheer Robbie Rogers, first gay player

robbie-rogers-first-game-galaxy.jpgRobbie Rogers made his Galaxy debut Sunday at the Home Depot Center, coming on in the 77th minute of his first match since he announced he is gay and retired from soccer last year. The 26-year-old midfielder had been working out with the Galaxy at the invitation of coach Bruce Arena. He was signed by the team on Saturday. When he took the field, "Rogers became the first openly gay male athlete to play in a U.S. professional league," ESPN Los Angeles reported. "He received loud cheers from the crowd of 24,811 as he ran onto the pitch, with fans chanting his last name. Rogers ran by teammate Landon Donovan, who slapped his hand and patted him on the back as he took his position."

"Because of the nature of the way sports has been for so many years -- the macho culture that's been embraced by everybody -- it's of interest to everybody," Donovan said. "Now, hopefully, the hype about it is over and he can get back to being a soccer player, which is what he wants to do...

"No pressure at all," Rogers said. "I got to totally enjoy myself and take it all in."

He stopped to do a couple postgame TV interviews on the field before signing a few autographs for kids calling out to him from the stands.

Rogers retired from the sport in February, when he revealed in a post on his blog that he is gay. He has been training with the Galaxy since April at the invitation of Arena.

"In a lot of ways the easy part is over," Arena said. "Now the difficult part remains, which is getting him positioned to play. Our expectations for Robbie are not anything big in the near future. Hopefully, he'll get back to the way we think he can be."

The Galaxy beat Seattle 4-0, with three of those goals by Robbie Keane. Before the match, NBA player Jason Collins tweeted his support for Rogers. Collins recently announced that he is gay and hopes to continue his career next season.

Photo of Rogers signing autographs: LA Galaxy

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