Robbie Rogers is returning to MLS, marking the first openly gay player in the league, but his comeback isn’t without stipulations.
The Chicago Fire traded their rights to Rogers, who retired from his sport after coming out as gay, for Chicago-native Mike Magee, the team announced Saturday.
The exchange, first reported Friday by USA TODAY Sports, came as Rogers announced his possible return from retirement to play for the L.A. Galaxy.
Magee, originally from South Barrington, was leading the Galaxy in scoring this season with six goals and will likely make his first Fire appearance in Wednesday's U.S. Open Cup game, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The trade hinged on the Chicago Fire as Rogers’ MLS rights were held by the team after they acquired them in a trade with the Columbus Crew on Feb. 4.
The Fire formally granted Rogers permission to train with the Galaxy but indicated they had hopes for keeping the distinguished player, ESPN.com reported.
But the former soccer star told ESPN he wouldn’t return to the sport if it meant playing in Chicago, stating he wants to play closest to his family.
The 26-year-old midfielder and California-native came out in February through a post on his personal blog, where he also announced his decision to “step away” from the sport.
In his 408-word blog post, Rogers wrote that “secrets can cause so much internal damage” and that it was time to “discover [himself] away from football.”
Rogers’ decision to return comes just weeks after NBA veteran Jason Collins made national headlines as the first pro-athlete to come out as gay.
Rogers told USA TODAY Sports that he “felt like a coward” for stepping down from his career after coming out and joined the Galaxy for training earlier this month.
He told the Associated Press his fears about returning to soccer were eased by the support he received from family, fans and players.
Now that he's come out, he can come back.