Robbie Rogers comes out as gay, leaves soccer temporarily

Rogers spent five seasons in MLS and played one year for the Maryland Terrapins. Photo: Associated Press

A former University of Maryland soccer player who spent five years playing in Major League Soccer and for the United States National Team is leaving the sport, at least for now, after coming out, the New York Times reports.

Robbie Rogers, a midfielder who played for five seasons for the Columbus Crew after playing his senior college season in College Park, announced on his website Friday that "now was his time to step away" and discover himself away from the game.

"For the past 25 years I have been show whom I really was because of fear," Rogers wrote on his site. "Fear that judgment and rejection would hold me back from my dreams and aspirations."

Rogers helped lead the Terrapins to the 2005 men's soccer NCAA championship in his only season at the University of Maryland. He spent five years playing for Columbus in MLS and bounced around Europe for several years as well.

He made 18 appearances for the United States in international competition between 2009 and 2011, scoring two goals.

"People love to preach about honesty, how honesty is so plain and simple," Rogers wrote. "I always thought I could hide this secret. Football was my escape, my purpose, my identity."

The Times reports that if Rogers were to return to soccer, he'd likely become the first active openly gay athlete in American professional sports.