The agent for English striker Luke Rodgers tells MLSsoccer.com that he is awaiting a final contract from MLS in order for his client to make his long-awaited move to the New York Red Bulls in January. Rodgers, who turns 29 on New Year’s Day, is currently playing for Notts County of the English third division.
New York head coach Hans Backe had tried several times during the 2010 season to sign the Birmingham native, whom he coached during his brief stint at Notts County last year. But Rodgers' work visa was halted due to his past criminal record, which includes several run-ins with the law for alcohol-related incidents.
RBNY sporting director Erik Solér is out of the country this week and was not available for comment, but he did tell the New York Post last week that, "Luke Rodgers got his visa, so he needs a medical, and also the league wanted a special clause in his contract. It's a behavioral clause and we're all fine with that.''
Agent Mark Cartwright, whose firm also represents the LA Galaxy’s Chris Birchall, says negotiations are progressing and he expects Rodgers to sign the forthcoming contract from the league now that the visa issues have been worked out with the US Department of State during meetings at the American embassy in London.
[inline_node:302286]“The incidents of the past were unfortunate and, in some ways, a young person doing silly things," Cartwright said of his clients' indiscretions (Rodgers' most recent incident was a bar brawl in Nottingham last October that led to his arrest). "Luke has grown up 100 percent and now has a young daughter to look after, so yes, he has moved forward.”
While the forward may have matured, an area of concern for Red Bulls supporters is that Rodgers has never played at the top-flight level at any point in his career.
Compounding this matter is the fact that Rodgers will be called on to help replace the production of Juan Pablo Angel, who lead the team in goals last season and whose contract was not renewed. But neither is a concern, according to Cartwright.
“Luke won’t have any problem, in my opinion, adapting to the style of play in the MLS,” Cartwright said. “In fact, I believe – with his style of play – many defenses won’t know how to handle his strength and pace.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012.
Ready to Launch: MLS Matchday 2010, The official MLS iPhone app. It's FREE! Download it here!