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HENRY WATCH – FC Dallas v New York Red Bulls

Thierry Henry’s return to North London was over all too quickly.  wearethenorthbank.com can’t be the only ones who still have an appetite to see the legendary Frenchman on a Football pitch, even if we can’t see him at Arsenal anymore. In an attempt to satisfy this obsession we will report back on his performances in MLS and keep you updated on how he fares in his second full season with New York.

March 11 2012 – MLS Regular Season

VS FC Dallas (A) @FC Dallas Stadium

TEAMS

FC DALLAS – 4-1-4-1

Hartman, Loyd, Benitez, Ihemelu, Pertuz, Hernandez, Villar, Jacobson, Castillo, Shea, Perez

NEW YORK RED BULLS – 4-4-1-1

Meara, Solli, Miller, Holgersson, Keel, Tainio, McCarty, Richards, Lindpere, Henry, Agudelo.

PREAMBLE

The first game of the 2012 MLS season for Thierry Henry’s New York Red Bulls saw them travel to Dallas. Henry would usually take his place up front alongside former Notts County forward Luke Rodgers but an ongoing problem with the Englishman’s visa meant he was partnered by promising young US International Juan Agudelo.

New York were also without the suspended Mexican International Rafael Marquez. The former Barca man was serving a suspension for his dismissal in the first leg of last seasons playoff defeat at the hands of LA Galaxy.

On the other side, Arsenal fans might remember Brek Shea, the talented left sider who trained with Arsenal in the MLS close season. He’s the key player at FC Dallas and certainly one to watch, scoring 11 goals last season. Shea is widely tipped to be the next high profile MLS export.

HIGHLIGHTS

NYRB went behind before Henry could get in the game. On 11 minutes a deep cross wasn’t dealt with by the travelling defence and two soft clearances eventually fell to Zach Loyd to grab the opener.

Henry’s frustration was visible early on as he drifted into pockets of space but wasn’t found. He was quick to berate his team mates for their lack of vision. It was like watching him scare the life out of the young Jose Antonio Reyes when the young Spaniard failed to put the ball exactly where he wanted it.

The highlight of the first half came when New York won a free kick just outside the Dallas box. As the home side looked to organise a wall Henry casually curled the ball towards the far corner only for it to canon back off the post. It was a controversial moment, reminiscent of his goals against Chelsea and Villa. On this occasion his moment of ingenuity didn’t conjure an equaliser.

Henry broke from deep twice early in the second period, showing a good turn of pace, but couldn’t link with anyone to create a clear opening.

NYRB were 2-0 down on 61 minutes. A loose pass from Miller was seized upon by Pérez who burst forward and played in Brazilian midfielder Ricardo Villar.  A neat chip beyond Meara was enough to double the lead. 

On 63 minutes New York coach Hans Backe introduced Kenny Cooper to partner the disappointing Agudelo. This allowed Henry the free role he’d been looking for but also provided him with a target in the shape of former Man United youngster Cooper.

Eventually the change came good as Henry drifted to the left and dropped a ball over the defence for Cooper to lift over Hartman.

Henry continued to pull out left and flashed another fine ball across the face of goal only for the tentative efforts of his team mates fail to make a connection.

The game ended 2-1 and Henry, who’d worked hard throughout, was visibly frustrated.

OVERALL PERFORMANCE

It’s fair to say that Henry didn’t look like he really trusted his team mates. He wasn’t getting much service early on so dropped deep to create something. His attempts to do so were stifled by a poor performance from Agudelo and the poor quality of New York’s passing. The return of Luke Rodgers and Rafa Marquez might be pivotal to Henry’s success. He interacted well with Rodgers last season and can leave Marquez to patrol the midfield. Backe will hope that this sees a less frantic Henry who can look to cause problems in the attacking third.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR NYRB?

First game of the season so no real damage other than psychological. They will need to improve quickly for another away match, next week at Real Salt Lake. Next weeks opponents come off the back of a surprise 1-3 win at MLS Cup holders LA Galaxy so will be ready to claim another scalp.

NEXT FIXTURE

March 17 2012 – MLS Regular Season

Vs. Real Salt Lake (A) @Rio Tinto Stadium