Luke Rodgers

Backe: Nielsen expected; Rodgers delayed

First-place New York is bullish on its new additions to the club, namely left midfielder Brian Nielsen from Denmark and English forward Luke Rodgers.

Head coach Hans Backe thinks that these two additions will jump-start a New York attack that has been sluggish at times, scoring just four goals in as many games. One addition is expected sooner while another is still perhaps a good two months away from arriving.

Backe expects the left midfielder Nielsen to fly in on Wednesday night and be available to practice this week. Noting that the player hasn’t seen much competitive action since December, the New York head coach is confident that the new signing will be see the field on Saturday afternoon against Philadelphia.

“I’m not too sure he’s match-fit for the first game,” Backe said. “I still think he’s good enough to make an impact.”

Taking into account a “six- or seven-hour time difference” between Europe and New York, Backe thinks the former Danish youth international will arrive Thursday evening. If this is the case, Nielsen gets two practices in Thursday and Friday, allowing him to acclimate to the new team.

But in Backe’s mind, nothing other than games will get his newest signing game-ready.

“Play him, play him all the time,” Backe said, adding that even just two days of practice will let the player be game ready enough in his eyes to help solidify the left side of the midfield. “I think it’s enough to start the game.”

On Saturday, Nielsen will become the fourth player to start for New York on the left wing.

Rodgers, a forward from England, is a much thornier issue for New York, and Backe doesn’t anticipate seeing the player at the team’s practice facility at Montclair State University anytime soon. The major issue is a problem with the visa, which “will take time -- weeks,” Backe said. According to the coach, this could be sometime in June at the earliest.

“If we’re lucky, we’ll get the visa earlier,” Backe said.

The coach conceded that the major hold-up in getting the proper clearance for Rodgers stems from the player’s prior criminal record.

Kristian Dyer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.