[MLS SPOTLIGHT] Three months after announcing he was gay and retiring from soccer at the age of 25, Robbie Rogers is returning to the professional game. The Los Angeles Galaxy acquired MLS rights to Rogers, who was born and raised in Southern California, from the Chicago Fire for Mike Magee, who will himself be returning to his hometown.
Rogers was released by English club Leeds United, where he played infrequently after joining it as a free agent from the Columbus Crew in 2012. Because Rogers was a free agent who moved abroad, his MLS rights were retained by the Crew. In February, the Fire sent Dominic Oduro to the Columbus Crew for Dilly Duka and the rights to Rogers.
Rogers, who will become the first openly gay male athlete to play in a major American pro league, already had a stellar career before retiring in February.
-- He won the NCAA Division I title with Maryland in 2005.
-- He played all five games for the USA at the 2007 Under-20 World Cup, where the USA reached the quarterfinals with a team that included Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley and Freddy Adu.
-- He won the MLS Cup title and earned an MLS Best XI selection in 2008 with the Columbus Crew at the age of 21.
-- He played all three games for the USA at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
-- He came on as a sub and assisted on goals by Bradley and Jonathan Bornstein that gave the USA a 2-2 tie with Costa Rica in their final 2010 World Cup qualifier. The result sent Honduras to South Africa at the Ticos' expense.
-- He scored on his first touch after coming off the bench to give the USA a 1-1 tie against Mexico in Jurgen Klinsmann's first game as U.S. national team head coach.
Rogers will give the Galaxy an out-and-out winger it has lacked this season -- Swede Christian Wilhelmsson didn't return after half a season in MLS -- but he hasn't been the scorer Magee has been for the Galaxy,
Rogers scored just four goals in his last three seasons in MLS. Magee scored just 14 regular-season goals in his first four seasons with Los Angeles, but he had three playoff goals in each of the last two seasons during the Galaxy's MLS Cup runs. Magee has already scored six goals this season -- just one shy of his career-high of seven with the MetroStars in his debut season in 2003.
Both players have taken similar career paths in that they attended Catholic high schools famous as sports powerhouses, spent time in the U.S. U-17 residency program, played for the USA at the Under-20 World Cup and turned pro at young ages.
Rogers was born in Huntington Beach, Calif., and grew up in Palos Verdes Peninsula. He attended U-17 residency for one semester in 2002 before returning home and graduating from Mater Dei High School. (He played on a local PDL teamgala alongside Klinsmann, who was playing under an assumed name.) Rogers was 19 when he signed with Dutch club Heerenveen after one season at Maryland.
Magee was born in Chicago and raised in suburban South Barrington. He left home before his sophomore year at St. Viator High School to enter residency in Bradenton and debuted with the MetroStars at the age of 18.
The trade should be about a wash for the Galaxy in terms of its impact on its salary situation. Magee's 2013 guaranteed compensation is $191,667, a big jump from the $105,350 and $126,635 he made in 2011 and 2012. Rogers made $140,000 with the Crew in 2011 before he tested the free agent market in 2012.
The deal is the second this week for the struggling Fire, who acquired defender Bakary Soumare from Philadelphia on Thursday.