If Sigi Schmid had his way, Robbie Rogers would have made his return to soccer with the Seattle Sounders.
At the same time, Schmid understood why Rogers preferred to play for the LA Galaxy and make his return close to friends and family. As the first openly gay man to actually play in a professional American sports league, Rogers will be under intense scrutiny.
In the not-so-distant future, though, Schmid is confident that such special handling will not be necessary.
“As a society we’re moving forward,” Schmid told MLSsoccer.com after LA's 4-0 victory over the Sounders on Sunday. “I don’t know if tolerant is the right word, but we’re more cognizant of the differences that people have. I think it’s becoming less of an issue.
WATCH: Robbie Rogers postgame presser
“We’re becoming more cognizant that it takes all kinds of people to make the world go round and we’re a lot more accepting of that. There’s obviously pockets of the country and of the world where it’s not more accepting, but I think those are becoming the minority and not the majority.”
At least when it comes to MLS locker rooms, Schmid has always been confident that Rogers would be accepted with open arms. After Rogers came out a couple months ago and said he was stepping away from the game, Schmid was among the first people to urge him to reconsider.
“If you want to play, you should play,” Schmid said he told Rogers. “You will be accepted.”
All indications are that Schmid was right, as nary a negative word has been spoken about Rogers' decision to play. With that hurdle out of the way, Schmid hopes we can get to judging Rogers entirely on how he plays.
“I’m proud of him, I’m proud of what he’s doing, but I think it’s important that people evaluate him as a soccer player,” said Schmid, whose son played on Rogers’ youth teams for several years until they were high-school age.
“It shouldn’t be, 'He’s a good soccer player for being a Presbyterian,' or something like that," Schmid said. "He’s taken a burden on his shoulders.
“Five years from now, this isn’t going to be a big thing. It’s going to be normal.”