Luke Rodgers, in the minds of New York Red Bulls fans, will be remembered for his run with the team in 2011 where he notched 10 goals in 25 games. Recently, he was approved for his Visa and has expressed interest in coming back to the United States to play, and the Red Bulls if possible. While I agree he should come back to the Red Bulls, I don’t think it should be the senior team.
New York Red Bulls II may be a USL team, and as such, is in the 3rd Division of US Soccer, however, the Red Bulls would get the most value for Luke Rodgers by bringing him in alongside the baby bulls.
Rodgers was never the fastest guys on the field, but he always worked hard in Harrison. He could fit into a high pressure system, but at the age of 33 (34 in January), he’s probably a little too old for the Red Bulls plans. However, having him take the field for NYRB II as something of a player coach would be a good move.
Having a senior presence on a reserve team would be a good experience for the younger players, especially with the experience that Rodgers has. Yes, he has had some off the field issues, but that just means he can impart more wisdom. This does not mean he’ll be there in a "scared straight" position, but he can warn young players on what not to do off the field.
On the field, he’ll give the team player who has a history of scoring, even if it’s been not so strong since he left the US. Players like Derrick Etienne and Stefano Bonomo can pick up some tricks from him to improve their games. Players like Dan Metzger, Konrad Plewa, and Devon Williams another look to improve their defensive skills.
The goal of NYRB II isn’t to win games, it’s to make players better and ready to step into the senior side. Rodgers is a player who can help facilitate that.