Carving a career in the Big Apple
More exclusive insights from New York Red Bulls hitman Luke Rodgers. Here he tells Kris Heneage about goals, injuries and the possibility of a swift exit – whether he likes it or not...July was been really busy, fitting in nine fixtures in three competitions on two continents.
I missed the first game of the month at the San Jose Earthquakes, but I did manage to play at home against Toronto a few days later. It was great to get a 5-0 win: I don’t think you can ask for anything else really especially considering I managed to score.
We’ve also signed a new player – Dax McCarty, from DC United, the team based in Washington DC. It’s a really spectacular city to visit and the place is really clean – but I guess you should expect that as it’s the capital...
Not too long after he joined us (and three days after the Toronto win) we had to play DC at home. They were really tough defensively and we lost narrowly 1-0. Their goal came from someone I know quite well… because last month he was my team-mate.
The incoming transfer of Dax was part of a trade that saw Dwayne De Rosario go the other way. I know in Europe player exchanges aren’t popular but they are part of the league here. We also let another guy (Austin De Luz) go to DC in return for an ‘international roster spot’. The system here is a bit more complicated than back home, with deals often including trades and/or incentives for the player draft.
It’s really not comparable to England at all. What makes it more unique is that your team can essentially send you where they like. It’s quite unsettling, really. I mean DeRosario, who only joined Red Bulls in April, had just put a deposit down on a house, which now he’s got to sell. He’s basically got to pack his bags and get sorted in Washington. That’s his second move in three months and it’s really crazy.
Because of the way transfers work, my own situation isn’t guaranteed either. True, I’ve got a two-year contract with the club, but if for example a new manager came in and wanted to bring the striker from his old team with him then that could be me out the door.
My daughter Lola is living with me now and if we did have to move across America I think to be honest I’d just fly her back home. Hopefully in time, they’ll be able to work on a system that gives the players a bit more stability. I mean, I know people whose wives have had to quit their jobs, people who’ve had to move their kids out of school. Like I said it really can be quite unsettling.
Luke and Lola take in the sights
During the DC game my Plantar Fasciitis cropped up again and it’s kept me out of the team. It also really hampered my chances of making the All-Star selection, which annoyed me.
AN ENGLISHMAN IN NEW YORK, Fri 15 July: Luke on his injury and the All-Stars game
No player likes to be injured but it’s part and parcel of football sadly. Even though I’m not training I’ve still got treatment and things to do. Despite what you might think I can’t just fly back to England for a week – it’s a strict routine, you’ve got to be in every day – but I’m not complaining.
Even though I was injured for the Chivas USA game, which followed the DC defeat, I still flew out to California with the lads just to give support – and get more treatment. I also go to the home games even though I’m injured. It’s about being professional really, even though you might be frustrated.
I also had to miss the Emirates Cup games at Arsenal at the end of the month. It would have been really nice to play in a stadium like that, but my main focus is still the league. We’ve drawn a lot of games recently – nine out of the last 14 MLS fixtures from the start of May to the end of July – which is disappointing.
Away from football, I went to see Alicia Keys this month at Madison Square Garden. It’s great having so many different options when it comes to going out and I really enjoyed it. I went with my girlfriend and a mate and when she played Empire State of Mind the whole place erupted, it was unbelievable.
Alicia Keys: better than Richard Keys
I also took part in a an event at the MLS All-Star hub as part of National Tequila Day. I got to serve people margaritas. It was brilliant, I felt like Tom Cruise in Cocktail. I think a few people were coming back round in the queue so I had to be careful as I didn’t want to get anyone drunk!
My month finished off with the All-Star game at Red Bull Arena. Manchester United really showed why they're Premier League champions by winning 4-0, but for me it was all about David Beckham. He really is a class player and I’d even say he could still play in the Premier League.
We play the LA Galaxy on August 28 in a game I’ve really been looking forward to; hopefully next month I’ll be telling you all about how I scored the winner...
It has been a pleasure watching Luke play for the NY Red Bulls this season. He is a phenomenal strike partner to Henry and we cannot wait for him to return from his injury. I met him at the All Star game and he took the time to sign my daughters' shirts and chat for a minute. A genuinely nice guy with loads of footballing talent.
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