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Red Bulls hope to add third Designated Player in 2012

Hans Backe and Erik Soler of the New York Red Bulls

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New York Red Bulls

In need of a big year after a topsy-turvy 2011, the New York Red Bulls are hoping to sign a third Designated Player this season in their continuing effort bring an MLS Cup to Harrison, N.J.

“It’s more likely than not that we will add the third DP throughout the season,” Red Bulls sporting director Erik Solér told reporters during a conference call on Friday. “It’s not likely it’s going to happen now. It’s more likely it’s going to happen in the summer window, when we have a lot more options to choose from.”

Solér believes the club’s luster will draw interest from several high-profile players – a fact he plans to take advantage of – but did not want to comment on any specific names, including that of Michael Ballack. What he did reveal was a preference for a more experienced player, one that could perhaps be as seasoned as current DPs Thierry Henry and Rafa Márquez.

“Of course, most of the DPs are late 20s or early 30s because the nature of the situation at that salary, you want to have a more quick impact,” Solér said. “But we’re also looking at younger options, more long-term options, but we’ll see where we’re at.”

Continued Solér: “We obviously need to really have a good season this year and we will do whatever necessary to strengthen up.”

Soler also provided an update to Luke Rodgers’ visa situation, saying the team were informed Thursday that Rodgers had a meeting at the US embassy in London in early March. The Red Bulls GM couldn’t provide a timetable as to when the English striker could join the club should his visa be approved.

“It very much depends on the actual embassy, how quick they are, the turnaround,” said Solér. “Some have it in 18 hours, other places it takes weeks.”

Unable to train with the Red Bulls, Rodgers – who scored nine league goals last season – has been training on his own in an effort stay fit. But Solér said the club are talking to teams in England about taking the striker for a possible training stint until his visa paperwork is completed.

“We’re probably going to have some more information on that within a day or two as to which club it would be,” Solér said.

As for the cause of the delay to Rodgers’ visa approval, Solér offered little detail.

“There was a minor issue before he entered the USA last year when he got his visa,” Solér explained. “It was a very minor issue, nothing to do with the police or anything. It was a minor issue, but enough for them to delay the process."

Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com.