While his heart may continue to be in New York, Luke Rodgers has found a new home in Sweden.
On the recommendation of former head coach Hans Backe, the wily, diminutive striker is set to join Superetten side Hammarby Fotball on a 1.5 year contract.
“When I talked to him, he had offers from Greece,” Backe told Sport Bladet. “But I told him: try Superettan.”
That recommendation led him to Hammarby; home to former MLS and U.S. international Gregg Berhalter who coaches the side. The team also features two Americans on their roster in Baggio Husidic and Billy Schuler. A recent report also revealed a trio of Galaxy players – Charlie Rugg, Kenney Walker and Bryan Gaul – are set to train with the club as well.
Hammarby finished 4th in the 2012 league tables – one spot away from the promotion playoffs. The problem? Scoring. Berhalter’s side finished the 30 game season with 40 goals; 21 behind third place side Halmstads BK.
Rodgers can certainly help on that end, but his skill is always tempered by a sketchy history. The English forward has a rap sheet that includes assault charges amongst other infractions, and his fiery temper has shadowed his career from club to club.
For Backe, none of that ever came into play with his teams. “He’s a hell of a good type,” he said. “I have not had the slightest problem.”
Instead of condemning his attitude, Backe praised Rodgers’ aggression. “He’s a different kind; a real f*cking tough guy no matter what he faces,” he proclaimed. “I remember when we met the LA Galaxy – he was about to trample (David) Beckham to death without giving a thought to it!”
Overall, Backe believes the 31 year-old Rodgers can add the spark Hammarby needs to make it to the next level.
“He is a very exciting player,” he said. “I had him at Notts County and bought him to New York. A rather small forward, but very strong. He is in constant motion for 90 minutes, cool to clinch the game and he was terrorizing back lines. The only question mark is how he is at physically.”