CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Robbie Rogers became the first openly gay male athlete to play in a U.S. professional league on Sunday night, making his Major League Soccer debut with the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Rogers entered as a substitute in the 77th minute with the Galaxy leading the Seattle Sounders 4-0, which turned out to be the final score.
He received loud cheers from the crowd of 24,811 as he ran onto the pitch, with fans chanting his last name. Rogers ran by teammate Landon Donovan, who slapped his hand and patted him on the back as he took his position.
Rogers touched the ball a couple times in the closing minutes of the Galaxy’s victory that ended Seattle’s three-game winning streak.
Rogers’ signing on Saturday was so recent that he wasn’t listed in the game day program, which featured a picture of Mike Magee in the centerfold. Magee, the Galaxy’s leading scorer and a fan favorite, was traded to his hometown Chicago Fire, which held Rogers’ MLS rights.
Rogers spent the last two seasons in England. He trained with the Galaxy for a month while hoping to continue his career not far from his hometown of Huntington Beach.
The loudest chants of “Robbie, Robbie” were for Robbie Keene, who had his first career three-goal game in MLS. His three goals, including two on penalty kicks, and another by Sean Franklin gave the Galaxy a 4-0 lead at halftime.
Keane’s hat trick in a 44-minute span was the second-fastest in Galaxy history. The fastest occurred in 43 minutes in 2004 by Alejandro Moreno.
Keane scored three consecutive goals 10 minutes apart. His first in the 24th minute came on a right-footed shot from the center of the box into the bottom right corner of the goal following a corner.
Keane followed in the 34th minute, burying a penalty shot in the bottom right corner. He converted another penalty shot in the 44th minute, booting the ball into the bottom left corner.
The Galaxy’s first goal came in the 12th minute when Franklin right-footed shot from close range into the center of the goal. Keene had the assist.
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