Henry Watch – New York Red Bulls 1 New England Revolution 0
April 28 2012 – MLS Regular Season
Vs. New England Revolution (H) @Red Bull Arena
NEW YORK RED BULLS – 4-4-2
Meara, Barklage, Lade, Ruthven, Holgersson, Richards, McCarty, Ballouchy, Lindpere, Henry, Cooper.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION – 4-4-2
Reis, Alston, Tierney, McCarthy, Soares, Rowe, Simms, Joseph, Nguyen, Sene, Moreno.
After last week’s drubbing in the capital and an injury list that would challenge Arsenal’s for severity, there was a feeling of impending doom around Red Bull Arena this week. New York went into the game with New England Revolution missing six first teamers to injury and another to suspension.
Whilst New York have had no trouble finding the back of the net, they have looked vulnerable when they don’t have their first choice defensive unit in place. Unfortunately for them, that’s been the case for most of the season so far. The prospect of starting a game with three reserves in the back four wouldn’t fill many with confidence.
Conner Lade continued at left back after a shaky debut whilst midfielder Brandon Barklage came in at right back to make only his third Red Bulls appearance. Tyler Ruthven replaced Stephen Keel as he had done at half time of last week’s dismal showing against DC.
Whilst there was a justifiable mood of anxiety around New York they perhaps could have wished for few more accommodating opponents than New England. The Revs had only won twice all season and travelled to this game off the back of two straight defeats. Even more comforting for New York’s patched up defence was the fact that New England had only scored five goals going into this game, only Chivas had managed fewer in the entire league.
As has become customary for home games New York started quickly. Within seconds of the kick off Dane Richards carried the ball out wide and found Henry closing on the near post. The cross asked a lot of Henry but a decent flick won a corner and put the Red Bulls on the front foot.
The ascendency continued and it wasn’t long until the inevitable happened.
GOAL – Henry bagged his ninth of the season, putting himself clear at the top of the goal scoring charts, when he latched onto a Conner Lade through ball. The young leftback chipped a neat ball over the New England defence into the inside left channel causing panic in the visitors defence. Reis charged off his line hoping to quell the threat but he came too soon and watched as Henry delicately lofted the ball over his head and into the net. Seven minutes gone and New York were a goal up.
Thierry’s next contribution was to play in Kenny Cooper who rattled a powerful shot towards the top corner only for Reis to deny the Red Bulls a second.
On 24 minutes the unthinkable happened for New York. As they broke forward Henry made ground through the middle only to pull up with an obvious muscle injury. With the injuries they already had the last thing they needed was for their talisman to join the list. Henry hobbled off and only returned to sit forlornly on the Red Bulls bench.
After having controlled the possession for most of the first half New York noticeably lacked an outlet with Henry out of the game. When Benny Feilhaber was introduced to the New England midfield in the second half they began to take control. It was to be a challenge that the makeshift back four would rise to. Against the odds the typically porous New York defence were able to repel New England and record a much needed clean sheet.
It was Henry’s presence and skill that gave New York the lead so he was arguably the most important man on the day, despite only playing for 24 minutes. His injury will be a real blow personally and to the Red Bulls hopes over the coming month. New York’s best hope of gaining points against more potent teams than New England would have been for Henry to continue scoring and creating as he has so far. That option now seems to be on the back burner.
They will be reassured by the organisation and commitment that allowed the shut out, even without the outlet of Henry up top. Dax McCarty offered stability in front of the back four whilst Conner Lade recovered from a challenging debut to put in an assured performance here.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR NYRB?
New York stay third in the Eastern Conference, two points behind DC United and eight behind leaders Sporting Kansas City. Three points this weekend was hugely important given the state of the squad. Conde and Henry, their two most important players, are unlikely to feature at all in May and therefore no points will be easily won in that period.
Next up is the trip to Tinsel Town and the challenge of LA Galaxy. The Galaxy had a shaky start, partly due to defensive frailties of their own however, recent form has improved. Beckham and Co. will provide a stern test for the depleted Red Bulls.
May 5th 2012 – MLS Regular Season
Vs. LA Galaxy (A) @Home Depot Center