Photo by Howard C. Smith/ISIphotos.com
By DAVE MARTINEZ
New York Red Bulls manager Hans Backe will be able to count on Luke Rodgers after all.
After suffering a lapse in his U.S. visa status that left his future with the Red Bulls up in the air, the English striker is no longer a question mark entering the 2012 MLS season after having his visa approved and renewed. Rodgers used social media to personally announce that his application for a visa went through, and the Red Bulls officially confirmed that Tuesday morning. Rodgers will be rejoining the Red Bulls in Cancun, where the team is currently holding its preseason training.
Rodgers featured in only 23 matches (20 as a starter) for the Red Bulls last season, but few players made the kind of impact the diminutive striker did. He tallied nine goals throughout 2011, good for second-most on the team. Of his nine goals, four were of the game-winning variety – the most of any Red Bull player. Perhaps most importantly, Rodgers found a kinship with team captain Thierry Henry, forming one of the most lethal striking combinations in the league. His impressive play lead him to be a finalist for the MLS Newcomer of the Year award.
Rodgers will be joining a crowded field of forwards that currently includes Henry, the newly acquired Kenny Cooper and U.S. forward Juan Agudelo. Nevertheless, his availability comes as good news for a Red Bulls side that continues to put the pieces together for a 2012 run.
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