BY DAVE MARTINEZ
It has been over a year since Luke Rodgers wore a Red Bulls uniform.
He is hoping he won’t have to wait much longer to do so again.
After many months of silence, Rodgers opened up to Soccer By Ives in his first public statements since being unceremoniously pulled away from the club last season, and the conversation began exactly where it ended; with his visa situation.
Ever hopeful to rejoin the club, Rodgers feels the way is now paved for him to do so – if the Red Bulls will have him.
“I personally think I’ve had some positive news on my visa in the last couple of weeks, so I think I’ll be getting my visa in December,” Rodgers revealed. “If I did get my visa, now that Erik (Soler) is gone, now that Hans (Backe) is gone, there is a lot (that’s happened) with the people that signed me. I don’t really know who is there now.
“I’d love to come back and play.”
For the better part of the 2012 season, it always seemed Rodgers was a step away from obtaining his visa but consistently fell short of the mark. The diminutive English striker says this time is different. “I feel really confident,” he said. “I can’t really say too much about it, but I feel really confident. With the news I’ve been told, obviously, I feel very confident I’ll get it this time.”
Up to this point, the only information made available to the press was an ambiguous statement from then-General Manager Erik Soler claiming the visa issue did not stem from any criminal or major legal issue. Rodgers cleared up the confusion.
“I overstayed my visa,” he said matter-of-factly. “It was the main reason. The team got to the playoffs and my visa, I should have went back in October and I never went back until November. When it came to re-apply, that was one of the main reasons.”
Rodgers’ initial visa was only approved for a year and expired in October. Meanwhile, the Red Bulls were in the playoffs against the L.A. Galaxy that would extend their calendar year into November. Neither Rodgers nor the Red Bulls organization anticipated such a difficult battle would ensue to re-obtain his visa after what seemed to be, on the surface, an innocent oversight.
“There was no idea whatsoever,” Rodgers admitted. “I never envisioned or anticipated it and neither did the Red Bulls. They did work really, really hard to get me back – really, really hard. There was obviously Hans (Backe), Ricardo (Campos), Erik (Soler), Juan (Kuri) … between the four of them, they worked really, really hard to try and get me back. Then, unfortunately for me, it never happened, but I still really, really miss it out there a lot. I miss New York.”
Recently, Rodgers was loaned to Shrewsbury Town of England’s League One from his home club of Portsmouth. The move holds a special place for him as it is where he began his professional career and also gets him a step closer to his home. Nevertheless, with situations finally clearing up for him and a potential visa in sight, Rodgers hopes he can get one more shot with the team he never wanted to leave.
“I loved it there,” he stated. “I always look out for the result. It’s the first result that I check, apart from the team I am playing for, that’s the first result I check for. I felt really well they got into the playoffs. I was just absolutely, massively devastated I couldn’t be involved.
“Obviously, I was over there for a year so there are still people there that know what I can do but I am not really heard anything, so I am not too sure what their situation could be. If the situation came up say for me to come back there in January, then I’d definitely do it.
“All I can say is my goal still remains the same and that is to still come back and play for the New York Red Bulls,” he continued. “I still feel the same now as I felt in November last year when I left. I still want to go back, I am desperate to get back. I’ve got friends I speak to out there, I love it there, I love the fans, I love the players, I love the club, and if I ever get the chance to come back, I would walk back. That’s all I can say.”