Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 2/15/13

CARSON, CA - APRIL 05: Robbie Rogers #19 of the Columbus Crew warms up prior to the MLS match against Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center on April 5, 2009 in Carson, California. Chivas USA defeated the Crew 3-2. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Robbie Rogers, a former winger with the US national team who played prep soccer at Mater Dei, said Friday he was stepping away from the sport after revealing that he is gay. In the final analysis, Rogers said he had to choose between being himself and being a soccer player. He chose to be himself. "I always thought I could hide this secret," Rogers, 25, wrote in a powerful post on his blog. "Football was my escape, my purpose, my identity. Football hid my secret, gave me more joy than I could ever have imagined . . . "Now is my time to step away. It's time to discover myself away from football." Rogers played for two US age-group national teams and was called up to the senior team in 2008 during qualifying for the World Cup. He appeared in 18 games for the US, scoring twice. He also played for Heerenveen of the Dutch Eredivisie, the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer where he was named to the MLS' First XI in 2008 and Leeds United of English soccer's second-division Championship. Most recently he was on loan to England's Stevenage of the tier-three League One, where he appeared in nine matches. After Rogers' blog post which he said was written at 1 a.m. in London was published, social media lit up with messages of support and congratulation. "Much love and respect for you," tweeted US teammate Herculez Gomez, a sentiment echoed by DC United's Chris Pontius. Women's national team star Abby Wambach, Juan Agudelo of Chivas USA and Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez also weighed in. "Couldn't be happier for you!" wrote Wambach. Eddie Pope, a three-time World Cup player for the US added: "Brave men like you will make it so that one day there's no need for an announcement. That day can't arrive soon enough." In his blog Rogers says he will "step away" from soccer but doesn't say for how long nor does he specifically mention retirement. No active US player in a major professional team sport has continued to play after coming out as gay. Most recently, soccer player David Testo, then playing for the second-tier Montreal Impact, came out shortly after his contract expired following the 2011 season and that effectively ended his career with no other team stepping up to offer to sign him. Kevin Baxter
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