He’s short, he’s white and he’s finally received a US Visa. Everyone’s favorite Red Bulls’ striker from 2011 can finally play in the US but it just might be a bit too late. In a piece on Empire of Soccer, Rodgers expressed his desire to return to play for the New York Red Bulls, but does the team share his sentiment? He is now 33 years old, did not play last season, and does not fill the mold of player currently on the Red Bulls roster. Rodgers will not be able to contribute to the 2016 Red Bulls season and should not be signed.
Rodgers has a fiery temper. One of his most infamous moments came in the second leg of the 2011 MLS Cup Quarterfinals against the Los Angeles Galaxy. When a call went against Rodgers he kicked the ball out of bounds and nearly decapitated an unsuspecting fan sitting on the sideline. The current batch of Red Bulls players features a team first dynamic; having players throw outbursts undermines composure and the team-first mentality. Despite the occasional outburst his scoring ability proved to be invaluable that season.
Unfortunately that scoring ability disappeared since he left the Red Bulls. Rodgers joined Lillestrom in the Norwegian Tippeligaen in 2012; he managed one goal in seven appearances. This was followed by a stint in England’s League One for the 2012-13 season, where he split his time between Portsmouth and Shrewsbury scoring five goals in 28 appearances. His last two seasons were with Hammarby in the Swedish second division, and Forest Green Rovers in the English fifth division, where he went scoreless for both clubs. Despite playing in the Conference National and appearing 20 times for the club he did not manage to score. Then there are the stats for Rodgers from last season, which are sadly nonexistent due to his taking the year off. For the highest scoring team in the league this year, someone who can’t score is useless.
Lack of forward depth was a problem for the Red Bulls this season. Improving on this is key to their success, and in order to do so they need viable back-up forwards. With limited options it’s important they sign someone who can play the role, and Rodgers simply can’t. The options for back-up forward currently include Anatole Abang and Mike Grella. Both are younger and stronger choices than Rodgers. An old and ineffective Rodgers has no place on the team.
In a system for younger players, Rodgers’ age is a huge problem in and of itself. There are always worries about big European stars coming in the twilight of their careers to MLS, but what about a player that isn’t a world beater? Rodgers will turn 34 on January 1st; he’s at the end of his career and he’s lost his scoring touch. The team is focused on a high press and does not rely on older players.
Without the right attitude, ability or age Luke Rodgers does not have a place on the team. Luke Rodgers is a fan favorite; he scored goals, got in Landon Donovan’s face, and endeared himself to the supporters over a short period of time. Sadly these things happened 4 years ago. Though he now has his visa, it comes at a time when he can add nothing to the team. The Red Bulls should not re-sign Rodgers.