Dressing-room disagreements, ring-nosed fans and career dreams
More exclusive insights from New York Red Bulls hit-man Luke Rodgers. Here he tells Kris Heneage about goals, unique fans, and naked interviews...
What a difference this month has been from the last time I spoke to you guys. IÃ¢ÂÂve not only been playing football again, but IÃ¢ÂÂve also been scoring goals. I managed to get my first against FC Dallas, which was nice: after a spell out through injury that first goal is always important.
From there we had Real Salt Lake at home a few days later. I know IÃ¢ÂÂve stressed before just how competitive this league is, and that anyone can beat anyone, but I think the game against Real Salt Lake really proved my point.
Obviously in the wake of that 3-1 defeat, Rafa Marquez said some things that were picked up, and made big headlines. I know itÃ¢ÂÂs not nice to critcise team-mates but I think sometimes it can be very difficult because of how quickly you have to speak to the media here.
TheyÃ¢ÂÂre in the dressing room immediately after the game while youÃ¢ÂÂre getting changed. That means you donÃ¢ÂÂt get that time to calm down like you would in England, so sometimes you may say something you regret.
I mean, imagine Manchester United losing at Old Trafford and you stick a camera in front of Sir Alex FergusonÃ¢ÂÂs face: heÃ¢ÂÂs going to say something different than if heÃ¢ÂÂs had that 10-15 minutes to himself. The important thing is that we had a team meeting the next day and everybody left happy.
Three days after that we had the Portland Timbers, who are a bit crazy. I say that because at their home games they have a lumberjack pitchside that slices up a tree when they score. We have our own super fan though, heÃ¢ÂÂs called Ã¢ÂÂJonny ToroÃ¢ÂÂ. He actually dresses up like a bull. I mean glued-on horns, ring through the nose Ã¢ÂÂ the lot.
The fans out here really do love their football. ItÃ¢ÂÂs great to see them get involved, especially doing something as unique as that. Jonny (real name John Russo) has met all the lads and I gave him one of my shirts for his birthday.
Toro with Luke (he's the one on the right)
We started October off with a draw in Toronto. I know it wasnÃ¢ÂÂt a win, but weÃ¢ÂÂd have taken it back in early September if youÃ¢ÂÂd offered us three wins and a draw from five games. Especially because one of those victories came against the favourites for the MLS Cup, LA Galaxy.
I know I joked about scoring the winning goal, but to be honest a win was the most important thing. I was buzzing after I scored though, even though I should have had two. As a team weÃ¢ÂÂre really starting to pick up form which is good. Thierry and me are starting to click up front which always helps. HeÃ¢ÂÂs been on fire lately and made it two in two against LA, so hopefully heÃ¢ÂÂll continue that on.
Luke bags against LA (photo courtesy Jim McCue)
Robbie Keane missed the game against us because he had international duty with the Republic of Ireland. WeÃ¢ÂÂve got a real mixture of nationalities and actually had five or six lads that flew out the morning after the LA game to places like Jamaica, Mexico and Senegal. IÃ¢ÂÂm a big England fan and I watch the games. In terms of career dreams IÃ¢ÂÂve had, playing for my country is up there with playing for Birmingham CityÃ¢ÂÂ¦
Away from football, IÃ¢ÂÂve been checking out a few bookshops for things to read. While I was recovering from my injury, I came across a book on jewellery. It tells you how to identify quality gold and diamonds so you arenÃ¢ÂÂt getting ripped off. It just interested me at the time so I decided to buy it and do some reading up on it. I like to learn and try new things and in a place like New York thatÃ¢ÂÂs really easy to do.
Soon we'll know for definite if weÃ¢ÂÂve made the play offs. You might not believe me, but IÃ¢ÂÂm not really nervous as I think we can do it. We set ourselves up with some great results during September and I think with a squad like ours, the play offs should be the minimum we achieve. WeÃ¢ÂÂve got two games to go, and if we can win both of those itÃ¢ÂÂll give us a great foundation and hopefully more things for me to tell you about...