As the New York Red Bulls muddle through 253 minutes of scoreless soccer, one of the team’s goal scoring heroes of years-gone-by has returned to the market.
Luke Rodgers, who recently left Shrewsbury Town in England, would like a return to the States - preferably with the Red Bulls.
Claiming to have his visa sorted out, fans immediately began offering support for the English striker’s return. From an online petition to pleas towards the team through social media, Rodgers has received an outpouring of support from the Red Bulls faithful.
Head coach Mike Petke has heard the fans’ outcry but says the process of re-acquiring Rodgers isn’t that simple.
“Listen, I knew Luke when he was here. I had a good relationship with him. He played very well for us, was exciting and scored some goals,” Petke said. “But you have to look at the whole picture. What’s going on over there? Why is he out of his contract, in what, the first division? We look at everything.
“Is it very easy to all of sudden bring Luke Rodgers back? Absolutely not. At this stage, to get someone you have to give someone up.”
Petke, who was taking the conference call while heading over to Red Bull Arena to meet Sporting Director Andy Roxburgh, has already learned just how hard and cold the salary cap can be. The team begrudgingly traded last season’s leading scorer and locker room favoriteKenny Cooper because of those constraints. While admitting his meeting would address, in part, “player acquisitions and the current players we have,” Petke stopped short of saying Rodgers was on their radar.
“We are always looking to improve our roster,” he stated. “The Luke Rodgers that left here, could he help us fill out our roster here? I think he could. Everybody knows that. (But) we obviously are not going to pick up because Luke Rodgers is available.
“We knew what he was,” he continued. “We have to figure out, along with everybody, where he is at right now, what his situation was with his team last, and fitness wise and mentality wise, where he is at.”
Another issue weighs heavily on the coach’s mind. Petke suffered through the 2012 waiting game that was Rodgers’ visa situation along with the rest of the Red Bulls coaching staff. Taking a players word for it is not enough for him or the organization to suddenly turn the page on one of the most confounding signing situations in recent club history.
“Apparently he stated his visa situation is sorted out. We have our own visa lawyers that need to figure out not just for him but for everybody, what his situation is. We are looking into everything.”
With that said, Petke made no concrete statement of interest in the player and it may be with good reason; the team currently houses six forwards, with all of two roster spots available, a tight salary cap and an unspecified but clearly stretched amount of international slots.