Henry inspires Red Bulls to first win of the season

Colorado Rapids v New York Red Bulls

By DAN KARELL

HARRISON, N.J. — The Red Bulls were boosted on Saturday by the return of Thierry Henry, and he marked it in style.

Henry, who started on the bench due to injury, scored the game-winning goal in the 81st minute, as New York won their first game of the season 2-1 over the Philadelphia Union. It was the Red Bulls captain’s first goal of the season.

“We needed to win,” said Henry. “I think the most important thing today was to win, no matter how.”

Henry was a major doubt to play today, as the 35-year-old was recovering from an MCL sprain to his left knee, suffered two weeks ago in the scoreless draw with D.C. United. Henry didn’t travel with the team to last week’s loss at Montreal, and was coy during the week on whether he would or wouldn’t play on Saturday.

“I knew that Thierry was going to play,” Red Bulls manager Mike Petke said. “I just didn’t know exactly what the best situation was for him. To me, if Thierry was going to play tonight, it would be best in the second half.

Red Bulls midfielder Dax McCarty broke a 300+ minute team goalless streak with a pretty back heel finish in the 55th minute that deflected in off the far post to give the Red Bulls a 1-0 lead.

Philadelphia substitute Conor Casey then equalized just eight minutes later, heading in a throw-in from defender Sheanon Williams that went past the outstretched arms of Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles.

“We did a great job to tie it,” Union defender Amobi Okugo said. “Conor (Casey) came in and made a great difference with the goal.”

In the 59th minute, Henry made his return to the pitch for the first time in two weeks. The former Arsenal forward immediately gave life to the Red Bulls attack, and brought the crowd to their feet with an audacious bicycle kick in the 76th minute.

But his late goal in the final ten minutes of the match showed his class. Left back Heath Pearce chipped a ball on the left wing to forward Peguy Luyindula, who sent a perfectly placed cross to Henry in the box. Henry controlled the ball with his right thigh, and then in one movement, hit a left-footed strike into the far post, giving Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath no chance to make a save.

“We tried to knock on the door so many times to score goals,” Henry said. “We had a couple of chances to go 2-1 and we didn’t take them, and finally in the end we scored on a great move.”

Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill captained the team for the first time this season, starting despite his hectic traveling schedule back from an international match with Australia last Tuesday.

“Team doctors after the game (in Australia) told me it was a risk (to play on Saturday),” Cahill said. “I think it was a good enough risk to take, because of the match today.

“I know it was a bit of a risk, but it was a calculated risk, and I’m happy that we got the right result.”

The Red Bulls had chances in the first half to score their first home goals, but misses from Luyindula and midfielder Jonny Steele meant the teams went into halftime goalless.

The second half began nearly the same way the first half did, with a couple of Red Bulls opportunities on goal. But the back four of Sheanon Williams, Jeff Parke, Ray Gaddis, and Okugo stayed compact and strong throughout the match for the Union, repelling nearly every New York attack.

But in the 55th minute, there was McCarty, flicking in a cross from Steele into the back of the net sending the crowd of 15,824 at Red Bull Arena to their feet in appreciation.

“You keep banging on the door long enough, and the ball’s going to go in for you,” McCarty said. “We created plenty of chances to walk out of here with three or four goals.”

Union manager John Hackworth went to the bench five minutes later, bringing in Casey and forward Andre Hoppenot for Sebastian Le Toux and Danny Cruz. The move paid dividends, with Casey heading in from six yards out in the 63rd minute, leveling the score and quieting the stadium.

But it was the introduction of Henry, just a few minutes earlier, that would help to bring the sound back in the stadium. Despite not being 100 percent, Henry’s 31 minutes on the pitch were enough to give the Red Bulls some confidence moving forward.

I thought we were playing well but not getting results,” Henry said. “All (the win) can give us right now is to breathe a bit better this week.”

Here are the match highlights:

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30 Responses to Henry inspires Red Bulls to first win of the season

  1. Dan in New York says:

    Incredible skill from Henry on the goal. Most skilled MLS player of all time.

    • ChiTown says:

      Certainly most skilled finisher of all time, no doubt.

    • Jay in Florida says:

      Carlos Valderrama may have something to say about that…

      • ChiTown says:

        Carlos was obviously very talented.

        Thierry Henry is ranked as the 33rd greatest football player in the history of the sport by the association of football statisticians.

        He lead the premier league in scoring a record 4 years and is France’s all time leading scorer.

        • Jay in Florida says:

          I agree Henry is one of the greatest ever and certainly the greatest forward to play in the MLS imo, but skill wise I think Valderrama is better, the classic 10 there hasn’t any other player in the MLS that has the skill set Valderrama had which is why i disagreed with your statement but we can agree to disagree.

    • AzTeXan says:

      I like how his celebrations are so subdued. As if he’s saying to himself, “There is no definite article.”

      link to grantland.com

  2. ChiTown says:

    That bicycle kick he attempted just before this would have been goal of the year hands down. That was filthy.

    • Lazio Curva Sud says:

      It was a lazy piece of showboating that didn’t work out. Henry had the space to take a touch to settle and aim; instead he went for the unnecessary highlight and whiffed.

      • Bizzle says:

        Ok son put down the Haterade……..wow

      • Georkt says:

        He missed the post by a foot. You have now entered the posting hall of fame for the most clueless post. I will enter it for using post too many times.

  3. Steve-o says:

    Still world class

  4. BT says:

    BS yellow card on Casey, that’s a 50/50 ball that he’s entitled to go for. Goal should have stood in m opinion.

    • ChiTown says:

      What?

      Casey was 5-6 feet from the ball and ran directly through Robles’ legs–flipping him in the air and landing him on his head.

      You think he’s entitled to not come anywhere near the ball and completely take out the player in a very dangerous manner and not be punished?

  5. Sabella says:

    Very pleased with the result but frankly it should have been a 4 or 5-1 game. The Red Bulls finishing was woeful. Henry showed his class and demonstrated how to finish. Saying that, their ball movement is the best I have seen in a long time. They created chance after chance. If they can be just a little more clinical, it will be a great year.

    If there is a worse team in the league than Philly, I haven’t seen them.

  6. Jeff Parke says:

    DUDE…did you see me today? I was absolutely ROCKIN’ the Headband out there!

  7. say what? says:

    what’s up with Henry not accepting Steele’s congrats after his goal? juninho was separating them on the way back for restart!

    • Supsam says:

      You are jumping to conclusions. He did the same thing to Sam. Henry just wanted to celebrate when he got to the reserves so everyone could celebrate together.

  8. Scott A says:

    Come on Chester, give us some competition.

  9. Vic says:

    Kinda nice to see him play only 30 minutes. He only had time to score. If you give him 90 minutes that gives him time to score and complain.

  10. bizzy says:

    Pure class……from the time he set foot on the pitch. With the standard of MLS rising tremendously (Cahill, Le toux, absent in the highlights), he is still able to come in and just Boss the NYRB attack, and putting himself to score time and time again…..the touch off the foot to set up the bicycle or the touch off the thigh to set up the goal strike pure class from Therry Henry

  11. yameson says:

    This was a good win. It gives hope for the season. I thought Henry and Luyindula combined very nicely in the 2nd half. Their awareness was excellent. Lloyd Sam gave Red Bulls a very nice injection of energy on the right. Alexander, while providing width, provides no imagination or variety. It was too much English 2nd division ball–take it wide, run to the end line, cross it into the box, hope it connects with someone’s head; rinse and repeat. Sam looked willing (and able) to run at the defense. Finally caught glimpses of the reasons we brought in Juninho. Cahill remains a big question mark

    • Georkt says:

      Juninho is top class and has more ability and style than anyone twenty years younger. As for Cahill you play two matches in a week including travel, then take a 24 hour flight back to New Jersey with two days to get your footing. Please try it some time.

      • Chris2 says:

        I’m not convinced about Cahill yet, but you have to give him credit–he ran his toukus off when it would have been reasonable for him not to play at all.

  12. RBNY says:

    Henry waived off Steele to do his celebration. He ran over and starting warming up with the subs. It was funny because he was doing that exact same thing a few minutes before.