The New York Red Bulls needed the quintessential Thierry Henry, the explosive, but smooth, striker that dominated Europe during the new millennium’s first decade. His beleaguered side, entering the evening’s match against the New England Revolution winless in the previous six matches, was desperate for a leader to wrest control of the team, to pave a route back to collecting three points a match. The bearded Gaul certainly did just that, scoring a goal that was of the quality to go down in Arsenal lore while also forcing Ryan Cochrane into conceding an own goal with a well-placed cross.
“I think it was a phenomenal showing and attitude in this game,” said Henry’s head coach Hans Backe about his star.
Backe would go on to then state, “I think he is just getting better and better and just hope we can manage now to get rid of his knee problem and also his Achilles (injury) because we can see that he still has some very, very good quality.”
Henry’s spectacular finish initially appeared to be just a bonus, a wondrous goal that doubled New York’s lead.
In the 50th minute, Stephen Keel clipped a pass into the Frenchman’s preferred left flank that Henry collected and demurely skated into the Revolution penalty area. Cochrane approached and was embarrassed for the second occasion of the night; Henry feinted a right-footed shot that forced the luckless American defender to stagger before slotting a cool finish with his less-favored boot into Matt Reis’ net.
Then, Zack Boggs pulled a stunning, volleyed strike out of the ether, the doubts that have plagued the Red Bull back-line returning four minutes after Henry had seemingly won the match. A wild final 35 minutes would ensue; a pair of outrageous misses split between the two clubs and a called-off equalizer for the Revolution caused fans, players, management (and even some journalists in the press box) to both gasp and cheer.
The close calls and near goals were not unique to the second half as Shalrie Joseph had a first half penalty kick denied by the long-limbed Greg Sutton.
Revolution head coach Steve Nicol said about the incident, “Obviously, one team gets a lift from it, we kind of got knocked down from it.”
Cochrane’s own goal would occur a few moments later. Luke Rodgers turned at the top of the penalty area and played Henry in who then set up Cochrane with the perfect opportunity to finish marvelous past his own keeper.
The rued chances and mistakes, though, couldn’t overshadow the night’s star, Henry. The Designated Player appeared demonstrative, getting on his defenders’ backs when they erred and demanding service often. While this type of behavior can be cancerous, New York required a cure for its lackluster performances that stretched back to the start of May. Obvious passion from a star that has sometimes looked somewhat complacent was necessary in order to rally the troops.
Henry focused on New York’s defensive problems rather than his finish during post-match interviews.
“I mea,n we are literally sometimes giving them a chance to score a goal,” said Henry. “Anyways, we won the game. I think we had some chances to score goals. They could have scored too. But overall, it feels good to go home and win.”
Henry’s goal, his 7th of the season, places the suave striker just one behind Landon Donovan on the MLS scoring charts. While this statistic indicates Henry’s increased concentration in 2011, his palpable passion should be more essential as New York attempts to recreate its fantastic form from April and reclaim the top spot in the East from its conference rival, the Philadelphia Union.
While not completely pleased with the match, Backe noted its importance as his club prepares for string of matches out on the side of the country. “Good effort, hard working, a little bit lacking, but overall mentally it’s important we got three points,” said the Swede. “Now we are going on the road for four games to the West Coast so it’s a tough few weeks for us.”
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