NEW YORK – The long immigration saga for New York Red Bulls star forward Luke Rodgers came to an end on Friday, as the club revealed the Englishman has been denied his P-1 Visa application to return to the United States.
Rodgers and the club have agreed to terminate his contract with Major League Soccer.
"After going through the entire immigration and appeals process, Luke's P-1 Visa application has unfortunately been denied by the US government for now,” the Red Bulls said in a statement. “We have spoken with Luke about potential options and have mutually decided that it would be in all parties' best interests to terminate his current MLS contract so he could play elsewhere.
“However, we will also continue to track his progress this year while working with immigration officials with the goal that he could join the Red Bulls sometime in the future."
Rodgers has been in England since his initial application to renew his P-1 visa was rejected last month. His appeal eventually ended up in the hands of the US Department of Homeland Security.
“It’s always nice to get something done, [whether] it’s this way or that way,” Red Bulls general manager Erik Solér said Thursday. “I think it’s good for everybody inside the team to finally know tomorrow what’s going to happen and whatever direction it goes, we’ll take it from there.”
Rodgers was also denied a visa when the Red Bulls first attempted to sign him in 2010, in large part because of a previous criminal record in the United Kingdom.
The diminutive striker joined the Red Bulls last season and promptly proved himself to be one of the most reliable strikers in the league. He scored nine goals in 23 games and, despite battling a painful heel injury that kept him out during a portion of the stretch run, proved to be a vital ingredient for the club’s berth in the postseason and Wild Card win against FC Dallas.
The club is now left with Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper as the likely starting strike pairing, with Juan Agudelo currently sidelined for up to six weeks after suffering a knee injury during the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament last week.
The Red Bulls return to action at home against the Montreal Impact on Saturday (4 pm ET, TSN in Canada/MLS Live in US).