Is Henry ready to dominate?

ThierryHenry (ISIPhotos.com)

It was just one game, but Thierry Henry's performance in New York's 3-0 rout of the San Jose Earthquakes has Red Bulls fans wondering if their star forward is ready to start dominating as he was expected to when he was signed last season.

Just days after revealing a nagging Achilles injury that seemed to jeopardize his effectiveness, Henry trotted out to Red Bull Arena and promptly flashed his old form, looking mobile and aggressive, attacking the net rather than deferring to teammates.

Here is my Fox Soccer column on Henry's performance. Give it a read and let me know what you thought of Henry's performance. See him getting rolling, or still skeptical about his ability to dominate on a regular basis?

Share your thoughts below.

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43 Responses to Is Henry ready to dominate?

  1. Der_Amerikanische_Kaiser says:

    One game and a few good ones during the Gold Cup while USMNT players are away, will neither improve his value, nor his chances of an Henry move back to EPL or La Liga. He has had a year to make an impact in a league where he should have excelled. In that respect, he failed.

    (SBI-Who exactly is talking about Henry going back to England or Spain? And who said he had a “deadline” to make an impact? He has certainly disappointed since he’s been in MLS, but it hasn’t been a full year yet into a 4 year deal. Still a bit early to call him a failure, or say he’s failed already.)

  2. jason says:

    Ives,

    Your article makes it seem that Khalif Alhassan and Luke Rodgers both earn player of the week nods. Huh?

    (SBI-Rodgers won the league’s official honor, Alhassan was MY pick for the honor. I’ll try to clarify that for those who couldn’t tell the difference.)

  3. Matt S says:

    He looked much better but he still needs to put more effort into his shots. Too often it looks like he is practicing with the keeper by passing his shots at goal instead of drilling them. I understand wanting to place the ball and have a deft touch but nearly all of his shots like that either go directly at the keeper or a few feet from goal.

    My suggestion, stop trying to be pretty and simple and start trying to punch a few with strength.

    Also with the emergence of Rodgers positioning and the speed and skill of Agudelo, I think it would be good for him to try to lay the ball off when he gets in on goal if he isn’t going to shoot with conviction. Too often he does the hard work of getting round the defender/keeper only to knock the ball into the side netting or watch as he dribbles out of bounds.

  4. Der_Amerikanische_Kaiser says:

    Ives, Have seen several articles over the past two weeks indicating that Henry is open to a move across the Big Pond. Nothing about a deadline, it’s expectation that comes with star power and the skills that got him to where he is.

    (SBI-But who was talking about that exactly? You brought it up as if it was part of the discussion, or even the story. Every big player who comes to MLS gets asked repeated questions about returning where they came from, and ALL players say they’re open to it. That’s pretty standard, a combination of politeness and keeping options open. Doesn’t mean any of them is actively trying to go back.)

  5. Life After Death... says:

    I love how morbidly you describe Henri’s first month of league play, “The dirt was already starting to hit the casket of Henry’s career”…very vivid imagery from that one.

    I also agree that the fans jeering him is what brought out the passion and fired up play from Henri, hopefully he can keep it up and stay healthy.

    It will be interesting to see how he follows that performance when he goes up against a young, but athletic central duo of Yakovic, White, or Kichen. They were able to neutralize Angel for the most part so pairing Henri with the quick Agudelo or Rodgers might give them an advantage up front.

  6. Petaluman says:

    Let’s talk more if stays injury free for a longer stretch. One game is good but it may be too soon to decide for me.

  7. Paul says:

    Against San Jose, Henry seemed to break out of his tendency to be too nice — both in terms of attitude, and in terms of trying to make the subtle, perfect play. Consider the difference between the side-footer that he tried to steer into the goal and the absolute rocket later in the match that forced Busch to stretch out. And his willingness to muscle Corrales off the ball just before setting up Rodgers’ second goal. In addition to his problems (last year) in getting truly fit, and the flare-up this year of the Achilles thing, it always seemed like he was conscious of the need to be a good teammate and overall good guy, and not some sort of domineering foreign star. I liked the spirit, even the anger that he showed on Saturday.

  8. Pat Pug says:

    I want nothing more than to have Henry return to form as soon as possible. Part of me can’t help but wonder why we didn’t see a game like this sooner. I know injuries have come up but as far as I can see these are injuries he’s been playing with most of his career and was playing with last weekend so I can’t help but wonder if he just wasn’t motivated earlier this season to give it his all. Maybe this is just me playing devil’s advocate because i don’t want to believe this but it is a little scary to think that maybe nothing more than lack of desire one week might cause him to crawl through an important game RBNY need to win. Also, on the goal scoring aspect. One part of be believes it was inexcusable for somone of Henry’s caliber to miss so many wide open chances while another part of me believes he’s done his job by creating or being in place for so many quality chances and the best way to score is to keep putting yourself in that situation.

  9. ivanomartin says:

    He scored on an open header from 7 yards (good finish, yes). Other than that, he had a woeful night. Even on the takeaway (which mostly consisted of the defender slipping and falling) and assist, the cross was not very good and Rogers was only able to score due to some very timid goalkeeping.

  10. BellusLudas says:

    Henry got pissed. He needed that. Even someone of his caliber has to give special effort to win in this league.

  11. Ian says:

    I’m sorry, but it was one game. I find it hard to believe that a goal changes that much, same with Alvaro Fernandez. Just because he happened to get his head in the right place, people are ready to put him back in the starting 11. Henry can be great, but I’m not ready to say he will be.

  12. David says:

    It was by far his best game since joining the team. It seemed like all the talk about his performance finally got him motivated and gave him the edge he had been missing. He could have had 3 goals honestly but if the one can open the flood gates then good. Hopefully he stays motivated. All fans really want is a reason to cheer for the guy and he gave us some on Saturday.

  13. BBFANCLUB says:

    It was just one game, as you said. Hoping for more to come but not holding my breath.

  14. uncle dude says:

    “Other than that, he had a woeful night.”

    You didn’t watch the game. He was all over the place making things happen.

  15. Second City says:

    Pretty much sums up my feelings, too.

  16. Mark says:

    I’m hoping the goal got the monkey off his back as I’m sure his confidence was low after having a terrible run in front of the net. We’ve all seen it before where a goalscorer bags the first and goes on a tear.

    Having said that, it’s too early to say he’s back, but I’m optimistic that he’s got his confidence back, as well as his health for the time being, and will be able to be much more effective in front of goal.

  17. Zoti says:

    The second goal was all Henry. The defender didn’t just slip he was outmuscled by a very determined Thierry. The cross wasn’t just good it was perfect as there was very little room between the last defender and the goalie. I don’t care how many chances he missed, he played his heart out and this victory was all his.

  18. kpugs says:

    I don’t get why anyone would be excited by this performance. It was definitely his best game for this club.

    He also missed a crapload of easy chances AGAIN in this game and scored a meaningless goal that Rodgers placed directly in the path of his dome.

    I was one of the biggest fans of the move RBNY made to acquire him, and I was also his biggest defender for far too long. Bottom line is that since he’s arrived here he has pretty much missed chances that any 10 year old would have blasted into the goal.

    And that includes last Saturday. This guy has been one of the most lethal finishers I’ve seen throughout his entire career. That means not gently placing a savable shot and not trying to go around the keeper when you’re 1-on-1 and can simply go far post ON AN ALL BUT EMPTY NET instead of missing.

    Sorry Mr. Henry. When all you do is waste ridiculously easy chances it’s going to take more than one easy meaningless goal to win me back. And I definitely hope he does win me back, the sooner the better.

  19. PetedeLA says:

    “…not trying to go around the keeper when you’re 1-on-1 and can simply go far post ON AN ALL BUT EMPTY NET instead of missing”

    — so true.

  20. David says:

    Great read Ives . . . the opportunities are/hopefully will be coming for Henry, hopefully he hits the stride this summer

  21. PetedeLA says:

    To me it just looks like he still wants to rely on his 4th gear in clutch situations, but he’s either lost it, or he just can’t summon it.

    I only watched the highlights of this match, but that’s what it looked like to me in previous matches.

    Even with injuries, I expected Henry to have at least 20 goals by now.

    Maybe the problem is he’s used to being the fastest guy on the pitch.

    Anyhow, there have been moments when I’ve wanted to say the same thing about Miro Klose, but he just keeps scoring goals.

    In any case, I’ve got my fingers crossed that Henry has more in the tank. It can only benefit the league.

  22. inkedAG says:

    I am in a wait-and-see mode. One good performance does not necessarily mean he is ready or will start to dominate. If anything, getting booed by RB fans, put him on notice that no matter what his name is and no matter what he has accomplished in the past, he needs to produce for the team he is on.

    A number of players have said in interviews “You are only as good as your last name.” Perhaps Henry is figuring that out when it comes to NY/NJ fans.

  23. David says:

    Thats unabashed hyperbole

  24. Tony in Quakeland says:

    After the last Red Bulls game I posted something along the lines of saying that Agudelo is going to be a great player (probably soon) but that he isn’t yet. I thought his one on one moments and agressiveness with the ball make him exciting, but masks the fact that he’s not there yet. I felt in the Union game that he failed to link himself with the rest of the attack. He just doesn’t have the expereince and game intelligence yet.

    A couple posters considered this, a couple dismissed it. (Generally politley, than you.) Now I wonder about Rodgers getting two goals. He’s clearly not the athlete Agudelo is, but he does have experience and is able to read the game.

    One game is not a pattern, but I have to wonder if Backe saw what I saw. I want Agudelo tp getplenty of playing time and he excites the hell out of me. But for now, I think he will be most effective for the Red Bulls as a sub.

    Thoughts?

  25. Tony in Quakeland says:

    “than you” = “thank you”

  26. Shark says:

    You have to ask yourself honestly, is Henry earning the $5M + that he is being paid? The answer so far is ‘no’. Only time will tell if he turns it around or not. I wouldn’t put money on it.

    Also, the Redbull are finding out that you can’t buy chemistry when you bring in high priced players. How well they (Redbull) will do is anyone’s guess. I wouldn’t put money on them though.

  27. ManicMessiah says:

    The Red Bulls don’t have chemistry? They dropped points against Houston and Philly because of individual defensive errors, which had nothing to do with the chemistry of the team. They’ve been missing chances which is also down to individual mistakes.

    The possession edge they’ve had in most of the opening games speaks to the chemistry they’ve shown as a team.

  28. The Dude says:

    People criticizing Henry’s finishing need to realize that lots of Red Bulls missed shots in that game, and the reason is the MONSOON that they were playing in. The ball and field were REALLY soaked and that makes for difficult finishing. What matters is that they were dangerous and creating great chances.

  29. socnow says:

    20 goals? Seriously? Have a little more respect for MLS than that.

  30. socnow says:

    Henry is one of the greatest strikers ever. He is a class individual who has been a good ambassador for MLS, unlike the other celebrity Euro who came over. Is Henry in his prime? No. But by the end of the season he will have plenty of goals in his account. Chill naysayers.

  31. Face says:

    One game – write something like this when he does something over a span of games, not a FLASH of his old form that you referenced…

  32. bottlcaps says:

    I think Henry’s competitiveness will increase as the temperature increases, Cold weather has a negative effect on the injury he has suffered. As the season progressive, barring another injury, Henry’s fierceness and competitiveness will increase as he becomes more familiar with the style of play in the MLS.

    The fact that during the summer, the US is a downright hot (temp wise) place to play should help him.

  33. Shark says:

    No they don’t and you can’t buy a title. Build a team like RSL has you win…plain and simple.

  34. Josh D says:

    I think it’s down to NY as a team. He keeps dropping further back to pick up the ball and he’s the one tying a lot of their more penetrating attacks. He’s not playing as a striker and beyond last week, I haven’t seen him play up top since the season began.

    NY have A LOT of talent, but most of it is attacking, not play making. DeRo should be able to solve that in time, but even he has a tendency to push forward with the ball instead of passing. Until a play-maker steps up and Henry can play further up the pitch, you’ll never see him as the score machine he could be.

  35. older & wiser says:

    Except that he has been quoted as saying he feels completely used up after playing a game in the summer heat of the U.S. and that is soemthing he did not anticipate and does not enjoy.

  36. DCU Sean says:

    Is it? A DP striker making 5 million a year gets a fortunate goal because of Rodgers’s work and misses 3-4 excellent chances and people say he had an amazing game. Then people turn around and say he’s turned the corner based on one fortunate goal against a lower end team, at home. I know I’m a bit biased as a DCU fan, but I don’t see how one goal makes up for his season thusfar of not playing or playing badly. I’ll eat crow if he scores a couple on DCU this week but kpugs does have a valid point.

  37. Q Dog says:

    Not only did Henry look like a different player, so did Lindpere. More should be expected of the team MVP from last season as well. Lindpere had looked absolutely awful up to the San Jose game this year…

  38. Scott A says:

    The feeling amongst NY fans gleaned from Backe’s comments is that he views the striker pool as a 3-man rotation. He seems to think that Rodgers’ qualities mesh better with Henry’s qualities. I’m sure it will all depend based on team matchups, Henry’s Achilles and Agudelo’s development.

  39. ivanomartin says:

    I’ll just have to disagree with both of you. The pass looked like it might have been slowed down by the wet turf, so maybe I’m being overly critical. Still, Busch was so, so slow to react.

    I did attend the match, as I do all the matches, in Section 127. I thought he was generally poor, although he did do a lot of running. But for a striker, really inexcusably wasteful. “Woeful” is perhaps too strong, I admit. I’ll revise to “sadly typically disappointing”.

  40. Troy says:

    well written and to the point. no reason to beat around the bush and kiss star butt. Henry is back, but needed the boos to get his &*$# together.

  41. ryan says:

    Ives – Well thought out and sharp writing! “The dirt was already to hit the casket on his carrer” LOL
    Fingers crossed he stays pissed.

  42. Becks says:

    Henry’s dip in form was evident at Barca as far back as ’09, which is why he was relegated to the bench both there and with Les Blues WC ’10. Henry WAS world class, @ Arsenal. That was a long time ago. He is not that player anymore and he has not been for some time. Nor will he ever be again. Sorry.

  43. Joamiq says:

    It was a good step. I’m certainly not yet convinced that he’s ready to dominate. He’s not going to dominate until he starts converting those chances at a higher rate. It’s hard to know what the problem is there. Is his skill diminishing? Does he lose focus in those crucial moments now? Is it just a streak of bad luck? Hard to know. But it is striking that he was still frustrating at times in a game in which he overall seemed to play quite well. So, domination, not yet.

    However, I am definitely willing to take performances like this. First of all, he played well enough that even with some wasted chances, he made a serious impact and was a difference maker in the game. But more importantly, he showed effort that hasn’t been there thus far. He was active. He sought to assert himself on the game. It wasn’t the usual Henry, sleepwalking through games, as if watching Agudelo, confused at his workrate. This kind of effort will buy him a lot of patience with the fans even if he doesn’t improve his scoring rate. And rightfully so – when you play like you care, good things tend to happen.