Luke Rodgers may desperately want to return to the New York Red Bulls now that he is a free agent, but that will not stop the club from carefully weighing its options.
Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke said on a conference call Tuesday that New York would look into the possibility of re-acquiring Rodgers but that many factors would play into their decision. Rodgers told Soccer by Ives on Monday that he would like to return to MLS, preferably with the Red Bulls, after mutually agreeing to part ways with English club Shrewsbury Town last week.
“Luke was here [in 2011], I had a good relationship with him, he played very well for us and was exciting, scored some goals, but we have to look at the whole picture,” said Petke. “The whole picture as far as what’s going on over there and he’s out of his contract with a [League One] side.
“Of course, we always look at everything. Is it very easy to just go and bring Luke Rodgers back? Absolutely not. At this stage, to get someone you have to give someone up, salary restrictions and all that stuff.”
Ever since leaving New York after the 2011 campaign because of visa complications, Rodgers has expressed a keen interest in returning. He has been open with his love for the club and even helped convince midfielder Lloyd Sam to sign with the Red Bulls last year.
The diminutive 31-year-old English forward enjoyed a strong campaign in his only year in MLS, becoming a fan favorite because of his offensive output (nine goals and three assists in 23 games), relentless style of play and tough-as-nails attitude.
That still does not mean it is a foregone conclusion that he will be returning to the Red Bulls any time soon – if ever.
“The Luke Rodgers who left here, could he help improve our roster? Yes, I think he could and everybody knows that,” said Petke. “But you’re obviously not just going to jump the gun because Luke Rodgers is available and you know what he was. We have to figure out, along with everybody, where he’s at right now, what the situation was with the team he just left and fitness wise and mentality wise where he’s at.
“Also, apparently he stated that his visa situation is sorted out but we have our own visa lawyers and stuff that we need to figure out, not just for him [but] for anybody what the situation is, so we’re looking into everything.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by e-mail at Franco8813@gmail.com