U.S. men’s national team midfielder and former University of Maryland soccer player Robbie Rogers announced in a blog post that he is gay and “stepping away” from the sport at age 25.
Rogers, who most recently played for English League One team Stevenage on loan from English championship club Leeds United, tweeted a link to his post on Friday with the introduction, “Just getting some [expletive] off my chest.”
“Try explaining to your loved ones after 25 years you are gay,” Rogers said in his post. “…Now is my time to step away. It’s time to discover myself away from football.”
The announcement was met with overwhelming support on Twitter by the U.S. soccer community, including former Maryland players including Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza and Chris Seitz.
“I am incredibly proud of Robbie,” Terrapins coach Sasho Cirovski said. “He is a special human being. The outpouring of love that he has received is a clear indication of the unconditional support he has from everyone during this time. I love Robbie for Robbie! I speak for all of Terrapin Soccer Nation when I say we wish him much happiness in this next chapter of his life.”
“Much respect,” said D.C. United midfielder Chris Pontius on Twitter. “Nothing but support for you.”
Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson, U.S. midfielder Benny Feilhaber, defender Heath Pearce, forward Juan Agudelo and Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy were among those who also expressed support.
“Good for you brother,” said New York midfielder and former D.C. United player Dax McCarty.
Rogers has played 18 times for the U.S. men’s national team, scoring twice, most recently in a 1-1 draw with Mexico in Philadelphia in August 2011. His first World Cup qualifying appearance took place at RFK Stadium in October 2009, when he had the game-tying an assist in a 2-2 draw with Costa Rica. He also represented the U.S. at the under-23 and under-20 levels.
Rogers had 13 goals in five seasons in Major League Soccer with the Columbus Crew, with whom he won an MLS Cup title in 2008. He moved to Leeds United in the winter of 2012, and spent the fall of this past year on loan with Stevenage. Earlier this month his MLS rights were traded to the Chicago Fire.
Rogers helped the Terrapins win their first national championship since 1968 with seven goals and five assists during one year at Maryland in 2005. He turned pro the following spring and signed with Dutch side Heerenveen before returning to the U.S. in 2007 and joining the Crew.