We tend to not delve into the personal lives of players on this site. We stick to soccer, because hey, we’re a soccer site. However, news hit the MLS/USMNT world today and I just had to post about it.
Today, former Columbus Crew player and U.S. Men’s National team midfielder Robbie Rogers posted a very moving and brave statement on his Web site. Not only did Rogers come out and say he is gay, but he also stated he has decided to step away from the game.
As a fan, you feel a lot of emotions for players and teams. To say I felt a lot when I read Robbie’s post would be putting it mildly I think. I’ve defended Robbie as a player, I’ve watched him play for the Crew and for the national team. I have even met him and his mother during a trip to Columbus. Robbie is one of those players who I have always admired for his work ethic, for his drive and his ability to strive to be better, to learn, to grow. So to read his words about not one, but two very large decisions in his life, had a big effect on me.
I was heartbroken to hear him say he would be stepping away from the game. But I felt a need to show my support, to tell him about how proud I am of him as a very vocal supporter of his for the past few years. So, I’m writing him a letter and I’m posting it here. Read if you wish, pass if you want. But here is my gesture of support and pride for a player that I respect greatly.
You and I have met before, though I doubt you remember me. My name is Trista and I’ve been a huge supporter of yours for years, ever since I became a soccer fan, and a Columbus Crew fan. I’ve seen you play at Crew stadium and I’ve donned your jersey at USMNT matches. I’ve always admired your talents and how you always have bounced back, how you’ve always fought for your team and to play.
I’ve defended you against naysayers, cheered for you and celebrated your achievements. I can’t rightly pin point why or when, but you have easily been my favorite player in Major League Soccer. Maybe it was because I know you have great potential as a player, maybe it was because you’ve always been so humble, so approachable from a fan’s perspective. What ever it was, I’ve never changed my mind about you.
When I read your statement about not only coming out, but about leaving the game of soccer, I will be completely honest – I was floored. Shocked. But once I read the statement again and again, the shock quickly gave way to understanding, to concern, to respect and to pride. You know, most of all, that what you said was not easy. And after a lifetime of keeping these words and feelings to yourself, I can only imagine the emotions you are feelings as this all comes to light.
So why am I writing to you? Well, the morning you posted your announcement, before you sent the link into the Twitterverse, you tweeted out that it was a gorgeous day but you felt blue. I tweeted you back “Don’t feel blue; a friend always tells me that if you’re feeling down, it means that things can only look up” And deep down I believe this.
Some say courage and bravery is doing something bold, putting yourself out there and doing what terrifies you the most. But bravery and courage is also the strength that one has to put on a facade; to put on a face and pretend you are all right and pretend that everything is okay. I have been and frequently find myself in that place – the place of pretend smiles and forced laughter, of making everyone believe I really am fine when in fact I’m far from it.
So what I would like you to know, for what it is worth, is that I am immensely proud of you for coming out and proud of the courage it took you to say that you need to step away from the game. But I am also so proud of you for holding your own when you felt like everything was wrong, and you were far from being happy. You are a great role model for us all, Robbie; you have encouraged us to stand up and make changes, and be truthful even when the truth might hurt. Even if it is a shock, even if some don’t understand or are unsupportive, I hope you do know that there are lots of us behind you. The true friends, family and supporters will always have your back, no matter what. I know I will always defend you and support you.
I wish you all the luck and happiness in the world and hope one day we can meet again.
Today, Robbie Rogers made a huge statement and the U.S. Soccer community and players were all behind him. It was an amazing thing to watch on Twitter, the outcry of support. I am happy to be a U.S Soccer and MLS fan, and definitely happy to be a Robbie Rogers fan.
Former USMNT player Eddie Pope said it best: