Four years after a visa snafu forced him to leave the New York Red Bulls, English striker Luke Rodgers is looking to return to the States.
Rodgers, who will turn 34 on Jan. 1, scored nine goals in 23 regular season appearances for the Red Bulls in 2011, but was forced to leave New York after missing a vital visa renewal appointment late that year. Now, as first reported by Empire of Soccer, Rodgers has finally secured a visa to return to the US and is aiming to find a home in MLS.
“It’s actually a lot harder than people think to get a visa now,” Rodgers told Empire of Soccer. “I tried four times and the last attempt got granted and took nearly four years.
“I didn’t give up on trying as I knew I was the right candidate for it to be granted – plus the hope of getting back to MLS always kept me going. It may never happen, but if there is one small chance, then in my eyes, it’s worth it.”
Rodgers has played with five clubs since leaving New York, joining Norwegian side Lillestrom for the first half of 2012 before stints at English clubs Portsmouth and Shrewsbury Town, Swedish club Hammarby and English lower league squad Forest Green Rovers. He’s been without a club since leaving Forest Green following the 2014 season, but has been training on his own and is hopeful – if realistic – about signing in the States.
“I haven’t really set any targets and I’m realistic in realizing that my chance may have gone now,” he said. “All I know is that I’m fitter than ever and know I can still score goals and work hard for the team, so I’m just keeping my fingers crossed and hoping something might pop up.
“I’d love to have one more chance as I still feel I have unfinished business in America due to the sudden end last time. Fingers crossed.”