Just the possibility of having Robbie Rogers on the roster led to the Fire to trade away striker Dominic Oduro shortly after preseason training began.
The Fire sent Oduro to the Columbus Crew on Feb. 1 for midfielder Dilly Duka and the rights to Rogers, who left the Crew in 2011 to play in Europe. Rogers and his English Premier League club, Leeds United, had a mutual parting of the ways in January. That suggested the Fire had a chance to get him.
Now that possibility seems remote at best.
Rogers announced on his blog and to his 78,000 followers on Twitter on Friday that he is gay. He said that decision coincided with his plans "to step away….It’s time to discover myself away from football."
Though he didn’t use the word "retirement" in making his announcement, he had obviously given the matter much thought.
"Secrets can cause so much internal damage...People love to preach about honesty, how honesty is so plain and simple," wrote Rogers. "Try explaining to your loved ones after 25 years you are gay...Try convincing yourself that your creator has the most wonderful purpose for you, even though you were taught differently."
Rogers said his decision has been long in coming.
"For the past 25 years I have been afraid, afraid to show whom I was because of fear – fear that judgment and rejections would hold me back from my dreams and aspirations," said Rogers. "Fear that my loved ones would be farthest from me if they knew my secret, fear that my secret would get in the way of my dreams."
Rogers blossomed in Major League Soccer in his days with the Crew, which began in 2007. He left Columbus for Leeds in 2011 and also made 18 appearances for the U.S. national team. He struggled last season after suffering a concussion and ankle problems, and Leeds loaned him to League One side Stevenage.
Leeds, one of England’s most famous clubs, used Rogers in only four matches, and three were as a reserve. He returned to Leeds after his stint with Stevenage before leaving the team.
The Fire hasn’t completely given up hope of getting Rogers. Coach Frank Klopas stated on the club website that "yesterday I thought (Rogers) was a very good player, and I still think so today. Should Robbie want to return to the game, we would still be open to him being part of the Fire."
Former teammates and players in both the U.S. and England voiced support for Rogers following his announcement. Among them were two former Fire stars, Carlos Bocanegra and DaMarcus Beasley. Like Rogers, both left MLS teams to play overseas and earned played on the U.S. national team. Bocanegra is the current U.S. captain.