Ex-teammates say Rogers can be trailblazer for gay players
CARSON, Calif. – Colin Clark, who was suspended last season for directing a gay slur at a Seattle Sounders ball boy – and vehemently apologized afterward – on Saturday made clear his support of Robbie Rogers.
A day after the former Columbus Crew star announced on his private blog that he was gay, Clark, now an LA Galaxy winger, said “absolutely, without question” that Rogers, or any other gay player, would be accepted in Major League Soccer.
“I had the privilege of playing with him back in '09, at the [CONCACAF] Gold Cup,” Clark said following LA's 0-0 draw on Saturday against South Korea's Gangwon FC at the Home Depot Center. “Great player, really good dude. His sexuality wouldn't change my opinion about him. Proud that he came out, and as you saw from everybody in MLS, 100 percent support for him.”
WATCH: MLS players show support for Rogers
Rogers' admission was greeted warmly by players throughout MLS, and Clark was among those who tweeted his support.
“I just think that he's had such an impact on a lot of players,” said Clark, who served a three-game suspension after his March 23 incident in Seattle, when he was playing for the Houston Dynamo. “And I think [that support] goes for anybody in the league. If there are others that would come out, I know there would be just as much support for them.
“I'm hoping that [Rogers] paving this path will help others. Not necessarily in MLS, but throughout the world, just coming out and feeling comfortable.”
Clark used a slur in the heat of the moment in Seattle, and he apologized after the game, saying it was “not who I am and it won't happen again.” He said that the episode played no part in his thoughts on Rogers nor assigned added responsibility to publicly support him.
“Before, after the Seattle incident, I feel the same way,” Clark said. “I just think it's great, and it showed a lot of courage for him to do that, and all you can do is stand back and applaud him.”
Rogers is from Southern California and spent a few weeks last summer training with the Galaxy, a club where he has many friends. Several of them said they hoped Rogers, who indicated he'd be stepping away from the game, will return as a player. The Chicago Fire hold his rights in MLS.
“He's a great player, and I don't think [being gay is] an issue as much as it would have been one day [in the past],” said Galaxy attacker Mike Magee. “And I think if anyone is going to be able to step into a sport and into a locker room being gay, I think it would be easy for him.”
Not only does Magee think that Rogers can return to being the MLS star winger he once was before leaving for Europe, but he also thinks the former MLS player can be a leader for gay athletes in sports.
“I don't think it would ever be an issue [in American sport]. It's so accepted in the American culture," Magee said. "Put it this way: If he were to come into the locker room and somebody else treated him poorly, I think that guy would be the outcast more than the gay guy."