The L.A. Galaxy come to RFK Stadium to take on D.C. United on Sept. 14 in a match that will begin at 4 p.m. Arguably, the Galaxy is the most visible and most talked about team in Major League Soccer (MLS), thanks in part to the six seasons that David Beckham played for them.
The “Beckham Effect” brought Major League Soccer onto the world stage and helped to increase the popularity of soccer in the United States. During Beckham’s six seasons with the Galaxy, seven expansion teams debuted in MLS, new stadiums were built and attendance for regular season and post-season matches soared.
The Galaxy is the two-time defending MLS Cup champion from 2011 and 2012, and this season they are in a tight battle in the Western Conference with seven other teams. The prospects of the team making it into the post-season tournament are looking better over the past month as the chemistry between Galaxy stars Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane has really begun to emerge.
Also on the 2013 roster of the L.A. Galaxy is midfielder Robbie Rogers. Rogers played one season of college soccer at the University of Maryland and helped lead the Terrapins to the 2005 NCAA Championship.
Shortly thereafter, he began his professional soccer career, which included stints with Orange County Blue Star, Heerenveen, Columbus Crew, Leeds United and Stevenage.
He retired from soccer in January 2013 and came out as gay in the following month. In May, he signed with the L.A. Galaxy, becoming the first openly gay male athlete to join MLS or any of the five major North America professional sports leagues.
Rogers has spent the 2013 season trying to return to form and keep his spot on the 18-man roster in regular season play. He has made nine regular season game appearances and six game starts. Last month, he injured his right hamstring and was out until a 45-minute appearance against Real Madrid on Aug. 1 in the International Champions Cup.
On Aug. 20, Rogers earned a start in a CONCACAF Champions League match against Cartagines where he injured his left hamstring. The extent of the injury is still unclear at this time and it remains to be seen whether Rogers will travel to D.C. with the L.A. Galaxy for the match against United on Sept. 14.
Rogers has been on a media blitz over the past several months appearing on Anderson Cooper 360, Nightline, CNN, MTV and Chelsea Lately among others. Most of the conversations have been about the struggles of being a closeted gay athlete.
So what do Los Angeles sports fans think about their gay soccer player?
One only has to look as far as the L.A. Galaxy blogs to find that the subjects most fans are talking about is their wish for Rogers to get healthy and stay focused on the game rather than his media tour. Truth be told, they basically said the same thing about Beckham during his tenure.
Will there be a “Rogers Effect”?