The Chicago Fire, who hold Rogers rights to first refusal on a potential return to MLS, would love to have a player of Rogers' quality in the club, but Rogers has made it clear that he only intends to play close to home. His exact quote is as follows, "I don't want to go to Chicago. I think if it comes down to you can only play in Chicago, then I probably won't go back. I need to do it somewhere where I'm totally 100 percent comfortable so ... I would most likely do it closest to my family.”
Rogers' sentiment is understandable. He is at a huge turning point in his life after coming out about his sexual orientation, and I totally respect the desire to be close to family and friends. I am excited about the potential of Major League Soccer being a world leader in accepting players of all sexual orientations and I applaud Rogers desire to be a pioneer. What I do not applaud is how Rogers has handled the situation. I think his approach with careless tweets and lack of respect for his MLS rights shows a lack of professionalism. I am completely fine with him wanting to go to the Galaxy.
Yes, like most fans I hate to see quality players continuously going to LA and New York but in Roger's case it makes sense since he is from LA. My argument is that if going to the Galaxy is what he wanted he should have entered a dialogue with the Fire front office and made clear his desires. As much as the Fire would love to have him in Fire red, they could have more easily attempted to reach a resolution that makes everyone happy. Instead, he went and trained with the Galaxy and tweeted things like "No disrespect to the Fire or any1in Chicago. I'm against playing there because I need to be near my fam at this time. Please respect that." Also, as James Coston reported back in February, Rogers tweeted: "Just read my "rights" were traded to Chicago... Love how the MLS works, pretty funny. #rightlessinthemls".
I would rather Rogers respect the Fire and the rules he agreed to when he played for MLS and have his agent give a call in private and discuss his desires. By turning his desires into a public discussion he has diminished the value of his rights in that LA now knows that the Fire have very few options but to trade them his rights for something. That something may be a lot less than what it could have been if this deal was worked out behind closed doors instead of in the public eye.
Discussions of tampering may be a bit excessive, but hopefully MLS will step in to help the Fire, Rogers and most likely the Galaxy reach an equitable conclusion to this saga.
To be fair to Rogers he did finally meet with the Fire on 5/7/13 for a sit down meeting. Following the meeting he tweeted "Great meeting with owner and president of Chicago today. Genuine and amazing people". My guess is that maybe his agent reeled him in a bit or maybe he realized on which side his bread is buttered. This probably should have been what he did first but we also have to remember Rogers is a young man and young men do not always make the best decisions in how they approach things.
I do want to say that this lack of professionalism does not justify some of the disgusting things I saw on social media over the last few days. Roger's desires as well as the difficult choices he has made to both come out and return to soccer while crossing a barrier of sorts should be respected. I think a Rogers return would be great for soccer. Regardless of how the situation has been handled by Rogers the Fire still hold a lot of cards. To paraphrase Rod Blagojevich, "we've got this thing and its golden". Whether it is significant allocation money, a player, draft picks or perhaps even an international slot, the Fire seem positioned to capitalize further on the Dominic Oduro trade. What the Fire will receive remains to be seen but hopefully it can score goals.