Thursday, March 8, 2012

Red Bulls' Rodgers Inches Closer to Visa... Perhaps

Rodgers: The Neverending Story
In today's installment of the longest-running visa saga in the 16 year history of MLS, the New York Red Bulls reported this afternoon that, after a meeting with the U.S. Consulate in London, striker Luke Rodgers may be inching closer to securing a work permit that will allow him to return for a second season with the club. RBNY's full statement, in all its cryptic glory, can be found here, but the key portion reads:
"...we are hopeful and quietly confident that Luke will be able to join the club soon."
As quiet as you can be while still issuing a press statement, that is.*

What does this mean for the Red Bulls? Absolutely nothing, in the short term. The Red Bulls would have been without the services of Rodgers for the first several weeks of the season even if he had been issued a visa on the spot this morning. For the time being, Rodgers will continue to train with Aston Villa as attorneys and government bureaucrats hammer out the final details. His teammates, meanwhile, will have to focus on getting something positive out of their tricky, season-opening two game road trip to Dallas and Salt Lake City.

Long-term, the return of Rodgers could (should?) be very good news for the Red Bulls. They looked like a more dangerous, energetic and focused team when the Englishman was in the lineup last season. Despite his tendency to drift offside, Rodgers' combination of pace and smart diagonal runs kept defenders on their toes and gave opponents a second threat to focus on, especially when he played alongside Thierry Henry. With Juan Agudelo expected to miss significant time this season due to USMNT commitments, having Rodgers back in the fold is of vital importance, even with the addition of Kenny Cooper.

It's strange to think how integral Rodgers has become to the Red Bulls, when only a year ago fans and most members of the U.S. soccer media were questioning the lengths to which the club had gone to secure the services of a relatively unknown third-division striker.

A few additional notes before we go:
  • RBNY began mailing out season ticket holder packages today, in keeping with their tradition of doing almost everything at the last minute. If you haven't received yours by the end of next week, it's probably time to start phoning the club.
  • Sporting Director Erik Solér sat down with The Sporting News' Brian Straus to discuss the season ahead. It's well worth a read, and by our calculations, hints at one additional signing to come before the season opener.
  • The Seeing Red! boys are back with another fine RBNY-focused podcast. This one includes an interview with homegrown signing Connor Lade, a conversation with Brian Lewis of the New York Post and a lot more. You can check out Episode #76 here. While we're at it, if you can make it, don't forget to join Mark and Dave at the Football Factory at Legends in Manhattan, for a live podcast starting at 2PM on Sunday, leading up to the FC Dallas game.
*not that we're complaining
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