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Henry enjoying himself at potentially final MLS All-Star week

The 36-year-old French star is relishing the opportunity to play alongside his usual MLS opponents and take on German champion Bayern Munich.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Whether he’s surrounded by Major League Soccer’s best players or Bayern Munich’s elite, Thierry Henry always feels like the biggest star in the room.

It has been no different this week during MLS All-Star festivities, as the French star has appeared to have a great time in the buildup to what could be his final appearance in the annual MLS showcase.

Whether sharing warm hugs with the likes of Bayern's Pep Guardiola and Franck Ribery or playfully rubbing the head of U.S. national team captain Clint Dempsey, Henry has enjoyed himself at this, his fourth All-Star game.

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“I actually like (All-Star week). It’s a good break away from what you do every week,” Henry told Goal USA. “You kind of learn about the guys, because sometimes when we play each other it’s, ‘Hi, bye.’ Sometimes we kick each other — a lot of times, actually. Tim Cahill, not me.

"It’s good to see guys and be able to talk to them about their family, about where they’re from, about their culture, about whatever. Not just, ‘You kick me, I kick you back.’ You have to battle, and that’s the way it is in the game, but it’s nice to be around and have fun also.”

Henry may be the biggest star in MLS, but his respect for his fellow MLS All-Stars and the league has been clear to see this week.
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“He makes it so much fun and he has an experience level that no one else has,” Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi said. “You just tend to watch him and listen to some of his quips and how he responds to things. It’s just been fun to be around him.

“He’s one of the best of all time.”

Said Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley: “You talk about Thierry, the career he’s had in Europe, but the way he’s come to this league and (left) such a lasting impression on everything he’s done is very special."

Henry’s respect for MLS goes well beyond his embracing of MLS All-Star week. He has studied the league closely since arriving four years ago, and while some other international stars might struggle to provide insight into the players and teams, Henry knows MLS inside and out.

“No, that’s me. I’ve always done that,” Henry said. “I’ve said so many times: You don’t have to study that much when you play against a team if you don’t remember who was good and who wasn’t and who can be and who cannot be good, or whatever. Then you have a problem. You need to analyze that right from the start.”

“When I first arrived, I didn’t know about the league,” Henry added. “I didn’t know about playing in Salt Lake or in Denver at high altitude. Playing in Houston with a 4 o’clock kickoff, it’s 110 (degrees) sometimes. You have to deal with it. I don’t think I’m good at studying, because, you know, it’s your sport. If you don’t know the guys that you’re playing against, then you’re doing the wrong thing.

Henry will be leading out the MLS All-Stars against a tough Bayern Munich team that won’t start its German national team stars (though some will make cameos), but Bayern will still be a dangerous opponent that will make things tough for the home team.

“Hopefully we can try to perform, but it’s not always easy,” Henry said. “We had a good game against Chelsea (in 2012), horrible one against United (2011), and we didn’t touch the ball too much against Roma the last one (in 2013).”

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