I have yet to meet a single New York Red Bulls fan who doesn't want to see forward Luke Rodgers return to the team this summer. With that said, the team is understandably preparing for a future without the man who "loves to (bleepin') fight!" At the same time, however, the Red Bulls are also just fine with keeping a young forward out on loan until at least August.
NY Red Bulls transfer news: Hertzog loan extended
In a move that shouldn't have come as much of a surprise to anybody, the Red Bulls announced on Wednesday via the team's official website that the current loan of Corey Hertzog to USL-PRO team Wilmington Hammerheads has been extended. The loan will see Hertzog remain with Wilmington until the conclusion of the USL-PRO season. That league's regular season ends on August 18, but Hertzog could be at Wilmington longer if that club makes the playoffs, something that seems very possible as the end of June approaches.
Hertzog has enjoyed much success since joining Wilmington on what was originally a one-month loan back at the end of May. He has thus far played seven matches with the USL-PRO side, scoring four goals and also registering two assists. Hertzog failed to see first team football while with the Red Bulls during the first few months of the 2012 Major League Soccer campaign, largely due to the emergence of Kenny Cooper, acquired by New York on 2012 MLS SuperDraft day, as one of the league's top goal scorers.
Several "in the know" individuals with whom I spoke at the time praised the Red Bulls for selecting the Penn State forward last year, but Hertzog has obviously not impressed head coach Hans Backe enough to earn playing time. Jhonny Arteaga was featured in US Open Cup play following Hertzog being loaned out, but Arteaga struggled in those appearances. The hope when loaning out any young player is that he will gain confidence and find his form so that he'll be able to earn first team football upon his return. Maybe I'm just cynical, but I'm not at all convinced Hertzog has a future with the Red Bulls as long as Backe is choosing the squad.
NY Red Bulls transfer news: Rodgers deadline
The Red Bulls are waiting until only the end of the upcoming weekend to learn about the fate of Luke Rodgers. Kristian Dyer of Big Apple Soccer reported Thursday afternoon that New York will pursue another forward if Rodgers, who is again attempting to gain the necessary work visa to return to MLS, does not give the team good news by July 1.
"We haven't gotten an answer yet," Backe told reporters regarding the status of Rodgers. "Also frustrating because we just need it before the end of June but also for Luke himself to find a club in England when the transfer window opens; he can't just wait and not play." Rodgers is apparently a little banged up after spending a couple of months with Norwegian side Lillestrøm SK following his inability to join the Red Bulls this past March. Rodgers missed much of last summer due to plantar fasciitis.
While DC United and San Jose Earthquakes are the only two sides to have as many goals (31) as do the Red Bulls at this point of the MLS campaign, New York could certainly use a little help up front. Captain Thierry Henry has been dealing with fitness issues since the end of April, and the Red Bulls cannot continue to hope to find goals and wins with just Cooper featuring as the team's lone consistent scorer. I speculated back in mid-May that it may be better for both New York and Rodgers if the two just agree to part ways for good.
It looks like we are a couple of days away from that moment becoming reality.