By DAVE MARTINEZ
The high-profile news continues to pour out of Red Bull Arena.
On the heels of Thursday's trade that sent Juan Agudelo to Chivas USA for Heath Pearce, Red Bulls general manager Erik Soler told reporters Friday that Luke Rodgers may suit up for the New York Red Bulls this season after all.
Soler hinted at a summer return for Rodgers, whose visa was denied prior to the start of the season, thus making him ineligible to play for the club. Since the initial visa denial, Rodgers has been at Norwegian club Lillestrom, where he has played in five games and scored one goal, which came on his debut.
"We hope to have him back when the window opens at the end of June," Soler said.
Rodgers' potential return, which would be possible after the opening of the summer transfer window, would certainly lend further explanation as to why the club was so willing to part ways with Agudelo.
Here are a few more notes from the Red Bulls:
MONTREAL ROLL CALL
Rafa Marquez won't be making the trip to Montreal for Saturday's match against the Impact.
Nursing what Hans Backe called a "soft" Achilles injury, Marquez has been left out of the squad for the match as the Red Bulls go for their fifth consecutive victory. The exclusion only adds fuel to the fiery rumors that the club is looking to offload the Mexican Designated Player.
The club's other DP, Thierry Henry, has been sidelined with a hamstring strain and is close to his return but won't play against Montreal. According to Soler, the Red Bulls captain is ready but the team did not want to force the issue on the notoriously decrepit pitch at L’Stade Olympique.
"We didn't want to risk anything with the turf," Soler said. “We are going to be very careful."
Mehdi Ballouchy, who cannot travel to Canada because he does not have a green card, is out for the match, and Backe hinted that Jan Gunnar Solli would be out as well. Pearce was at Red Bulls training Friday and is fully expected to participate with his new club.
TAINIO INJURY POTENTIALLY CAREER-THREATENING
Things have taken a terrible turn for Teemu Tainio.
Backe, who has been cautious when speaking of his midfielder’s health all season, revealed that the Finnish international will be out for two months with a knee injury – and that would be a best case scenario.
“That kind of knee injury is quite tough, so I think it will be a decision made in 6-to-8 weeks if he has to stop his career,” Backe said. “It’s frustrating. He is a key player for us in the midfield, and I think we will probably know in 6-8 weeks if he will be back or not.”
Although Tainio has been invaluable to the team when healthy, the midfielder’s condition has long been a concern for the team. Backe has said as early as preseason that he would only be relied upon for a handful of games. This development will certainly cloud that assessment.
“It hasn’t been the knee before. It has been more hamstrings, thigh injuries, fatigue muscles and things like that, but this is a rough one with the knee, with the ACL,” the coach noted. “He has had some injuries and this is quite rough one. I was a little bit surprised but let’s see if they can fix it now.”
Perhaps alluding to the loss of Tainio, Soler made mention that the acquisition of Pearce would allow the team to patch up their losses on the backline as well as the central defensive midfield position.
Tainio, who has played a vital part in the Red Bulls midfield since joining the club, has only started in two matches this season, making three appearances for the club and accumulating 180 minutes of play.
CONDE FINED FOR ARREST
The Red Bulls have fined, but not suspended, centerback Wilman Conde for his aggravated assault of a police officer last weekend that resulted in his arrest.
Both Backe and Soler do not expect the league to punish the player any further than what the club has determined. Conde, who has played in just two of the Red Bulls 10 matches this season, has been nursing a groin injury. He will be made available for Wednesday’s tilt against Chivas USA at home and is expected to start.