More ‘Donovan’ Comments From Luke Rodgers, Please

Posted In Features - By Steven Streff On Wednesday, May 11th, 2011 With 2 Comments

Luke Rodgers has been in America playing for the New York Red Bulls for just a couple of months now, but already he is having an impact on and off the pitch for his team and the league. His recent insertion into the Red Bulls’ starting lineup has helped them get their season on track, and his partnership with Thierry Henry has already produced several goals between the two. But his greatest contribution to the league so far might have been taking a shot at the league’s shining star, Landon Donovan.

Donovan has a lot of fans in the league, and for good reason. The USA national team is still ahead of MLS in terms of popularity for Americans who watch soccer, and many have seen the exploits on the field for Donovan. Add to the fact that he went and played so well at Everton Football Club in 2010, and it’s easy to see why he might have so many American fans.

The same cannot be said of MLS fans. Since coming back from Everton, Donovan has increasingly become vocal towards the referees and opposing players, to the point where Rodgers called out Donovan after the Los Angeles and New York game last Saturday night. On Monday, when interviewed by members of the New York press, Rodgers refused to hold back his punches. Rodgers dropped this gem to Brian Lewis of the New York Post:

“In this league, he’s a respected person, but he’s telling Titi [Thierry Henry] to (screw) off” said Rodgers, “The kid’s a d—head. I don’t care. I just think the kid’s a (friggin’ jerk).”

In the second half of the game, Rodgers collided with LA keeper Donovan Ricketts, which looked like it might cause a situation. However, the incident seemed to pass when Ricketts and Rodgers shook hands, but Donovan made his way over to the referee to argue that Rodgers should receive some sort of punishment. This caused some friction between the two, as the continued to argue as play resumed. Rodgers referenced this as well on Monday, to voice his displeasure.

“I tackled the keeper. He’s running [the] whole length of the field to tell the ref I should be sent off. He needs to be a bit more humble.”

Rodgers comments serve two great purposes. Firstly, it is about time that a player publicly derided Donovan. As a great of a figure he is with the national team, he has a bad streak in the league of trying to take advantage of his stardom. And for the most part, he gets away with it. When he scored against New York, he clearly celebrated in front of them for a moment. Henry had words with Donovan right after that on the field, but Donovan looked to have shrugged it off. Donovan also has a terrible streak of complaining to the referees to get a decision to go his way, something that is quite a turn off for most supporters.

Potentially though, the greater purpose of Rodgers’ comments, is the idea that they might help cultivate the on field rivalries that the league has missed out on for most of its existence. When comments like Rodgers’ are made, there will inevitably be tension on the field the next time the two teams meet. Neither team will forget the actions and words from the past meeting next time, which should help generate drama that you get in other leagues around the world.

Rodgers isn’t the only one who has made public comments recently that could be deemed inflammatory, as Carlos Ruiz had a shot at LA before tonight’s game as well. Those comments, combined with the increased visibility of rivalries in the league (Portland billboards in Seattle, Houston billboards in Dallas, Chivas USA ads against the Galaxy), are giving a face to the potential that the rivalry games can have. It’s taken a while in the league, but it now appears that players and teams alike are trying to capitalize on that potential.

About Steven Streff -

Displaying 2 Comments
Have Your Say

  1. Mike says:

    Well put. This is exactly what the MLS has been missing and what it needs more of. I didn’t like the Rodgers signing at first. I saw a thug coming over to the states, but he’s been much more than that to RBNY. He’s the guy on the pitch that has your back and won’t take crap from anyone. A great teammate…

    • Chris says:

      He was always one of those guys you hate in the other team, but love in your own.

      THink it’s funny he says ‘kid’ of Donovan, though.

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>