Friday, March 30, 2012

So Long, Luke! Rodgers' Visa Appeal Denied

So Long, Luke
The long-running Luke Rodgers visa saga came crashing to a finish this afternoon when the New York Red Bulls revealed that the English striker had been denied re-entry into the United States. As a result, his contract has been voided, and the club will now be free to pursue a replacement. Sporting Director Erik Soler told Brian Lewis of the New York Post that he is already trying to line up a replacement, but Rodgers' contributions will be hard to match. He was one of the very few bright spots in a dismal 2011 season, and his energy, speed and ability to get "stuck in" will be sorely missed (perhaps less so by opposing defenders, who had a whale of a time coping with his bulldog style).

Why did Rodgers' visa get denied? Nobody seems to know for sure, but the most popular rumor suggests that he failed to disclose relevant information to U.S. authorities - a major no-no, according to Stan Chelney at his excellent Soccerlaw blog. Of course that hasn't stopped the soccerazzi from blaming the Red Bulls' front office, who are always a popular target.

It's a disappointing end for everyone involved: the Red Bulls, who have been strung along for months and are now deprived of one of their best strikers; the fans, who have lost a player with a real passion for the game and a never-say-die attitude; and most particularly for Rodgers, who will need to find a new club just as the European season dies down.
RBNY doesn't have any time to sit around and rue its fate. New York welcomes Montreal Impact to Harrison tomorrow afternoon. Happily, Kenny Cooper and Thierry Henry seem to be developing a good understanding. If both can stay healthy, maybe the Red Bulls won't miss Rodgers so much after all. If not, they might need one of the "Baby Bulls" to step in until Juan Agudelo returns.
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