By DAVE MARTINEZ
The New York Red Bulls could get word of Luke Rodgers’ visa status in early March, but the situation is far from clear cut. Speaking to the press from Red Bulls’ preseason training camp in Arizona, team General Manager Erik Soler shed some light on the progress of his English striker's permit renewal.
“There is meetings set up at the early stages of March for him at the embassy at London,” Soler explained. “After that meeting, he will hopefully have his visa. That is the latest information we had.”
Rodgers had difficulty securing his visa last season, and it was assumed a pair of run-ins with the law – including an arrest for assault and an incident where he mistakenly hit a sixteen year old with a live firecracker – were the reason for the delay. As per Soler, another unexplained reason may have been the culprit.
“There was some minor issue before he entered the USA last year. Meaning he got his visa, it was a very minor issue, nothing to do with the police or anything,” said Soler. “It was a minor issue, but enough for them to delay the process.”
That unidentified minor issue seems to be delaying his proceedings this year as well.
“All we can say about Luke is he has been here for a year, he’s been excellent privately and professionally and we hope that this minor issue that is now 14 months old, or 15 months old doesn’t make things any more difficult for us.”
While New York awaits a decision on Rodgers, they are taking steps to assure he will be ready for the season. “We are looking for him to train with a club in England now and will probably have more information on that within a day or two which club that will be,” Soler stated.
The Red Bulls GM said Rodgers was working out on his own to stay fit while New York finds him a proper club to train with. He also revealed what could very well be the team’s timetable for the English striker’s arrival.
“We are going to set him up to play with a club for the next 2-3 weeks until he arrives here,” Soler said.
In a best case scenario where he would be immediately fit to go, that would push Rodgers' arrival around the time of the team’s second league fixture.
Either way, Soler gave an optimistic look at the situation, claiming it would be “a matter of a few days” for Rodgers to arrive upon approval of his permit. Still, there is no guarantee his visa would be granted.
In a worst case scenario, the Red Bulls GM acknowledged he would have to look outside of the team for a similar style player in order to compensate for the loss of Rodgers. When asked if Agudelo could fill the role, he cited the young American's mid-summer Olympic absence as a reason why he could not.
All in all, the Luke Rodgers work permit saga continues.