The MLS playoff system might be unfamiliar to players like Thierry Henry, but the French star sees similarities with Europe's top club competition.
What will be foreign to Henry as well as Rafa Marquez and Joel Lindpere is the league’s playoff system.
Whereas in Europe, the team with the most points finishes champion of the league, the postseason offers eight teams an equal chance to win the MLS title. However, Henry believes that while the system will initially take some getting used to, it isn’t completely unfamiliar to him.
“It’s kind of weird. It’s like in the club game with the Champions League. We have that in Europe,” said Henry. “When we play in the playoffs, it’s going to have a Champions League feel to it.”
Henry used the home and away format of the MLS playoffs as an comparison to Europe’s top club competition. In both competitions, away goals are extremely valuable and Henry acknowledged that one bad game can disastrous for any team.
“You know how it is with playoff games sometime, one bad game and you can be out,” said Henry. “That’s how it is; you have to play well every time.”
Henry wouldn’t discuss how far he believes the Red Bulls could go in the playoffs but is excited by the openness of the format.
“Last year, I was following the league and Real Salt Lake qualified in the last game in the regular season and won the title. It depends on how you pick your momentum. Who’s fit and how are you going to play? “
Henry scored his second goal in the Red Bulls 3-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids. Henry looked very comfortable attacking from all angles and made several key runs. Henry addressed his rise in form saying that he is finally beginning to have proper fitness after having a difficult time in gaining match condition initially.
“Today, I felt fresh,” said Henry. “Even before the game when I arrived, it was the first time that I didn’t feel tired before the game.”
After Henry’s post game interviews with the media, Henry quickly made his way back on the pitch of the Red Bull Arena. No, it wasn’t to provide fans with an encore after scoring today but to acknowledge approximately 300 supporters from the Arsenal America fan group. The former Gunner came out to a very enthusiastic crowd sitting in the corner flag section. There he greeted fans and answered some questions.
Henry surprisingly spent 20 minutes with the fans and left hearing them singing Arsenal songs and screaming, “We love you Henry!” Not a bad day to be a Gunners fan in New York, especially after the London team’s 4-1 thrashing of Bolton earlier in the day.
Alex Labidou, a Goal.com contributor, is based in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @sportslab.
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