Henry Watch – New York Red Bulls 2 Houston Dynamo 0
August 10th 2012 – MLS Regular Season
Vs. HOUSTON DYNAMO (A) @Red Bull Arena.
NEW YORK RED BULLS – 4-4-2
Gaudette; Lade, Miller, Holgersson, Pearce; McCarty, Cahill, Le Toux, Lindpere; Henry, Cooper.
HOUSTON DYNAMO – 4-3-3
Hall; Hainault, Ashe, Boswell, Taylor; Moffat, Garcia, Davis; Carr, Kandji, Bruin.
There were some decisions to be made ahead of the second of a pivotal double header with Houston Dynamo. The recent additions of Cahill and Le Toux presented Backe with an interesting selection dilemma. How would he respond? Would he be brave enough to leave out his top scorer? Might he ask Cahill to start on the bench and switch to a 4-3-3? Perhaps Le Toux would miss out?
Backe chose to respond as he has most of the season; by picking his best players. In response to last weeks 2-0 reverse in Texas there was to be no tactical jiggery pokery as Backe stuck resolutely to his favoured 4-4-2, albeit a slightly lop sided one.
There were changes at the back as Barklage, Conde and Marquez were all absent. The adaptable rookie Connor Lade filled in at right back whilst Heath Pearce started in the middle of defence. Ahead of that, Backe opted for a diamond midfield, anchored by the returning McCarty and led by Cahill. The quandry regarding who to play up front was side stepped as Cooper kept his place alongside Henry and Le Toux fulfilled the wide right role.
Much of the opening period was quite evenly contested although New York managed to register the better of the chances. Both McCarty and Le Toux missed good chances and Henry only managed a tame attempt at Houston stopper Tally Hall.
There were signs of Tim Cahill settling in and a couple of characteristic headed attempts, the first of which from an Henry delivery, would suggest there are goals in New Yorks latest DP.
The deadlock was eventually broken in the 61st and the goal, perhaps predicatably, involved the head of Cahill. The former Everton man was able to meet a Roy Miller cross and direct the ball towards goal where Markus Holgersson converted.
From here on Houston began to scrap there way back into the game. Any of Ching, Kandji or Ashe could, perhaps should, have squared the game but a combination of poor finishing and well placed woodwork preserved the Red Bulls slender advantage.
As Houston pushed forward, a neat combination between Cahill and Henry on the left allowed the captain to break free of the offside trap and square for Solli to put the game beyond doubt. Henry’s seventh assist and Solli’s third goal was enough to close out the game and put New York back at the top of the East.
Another relatively quiet outing for Henry; he only registered three shots in the game. His sometimes languid approach was still enough to contribute to the victory and put New York ahead in the race for the playoffs. Henry does appear to have slowed in recent weeks but this may not be a bad thing. The introduction of more attacking options allows New York to play in a less one dimensional way and may relieve Henry from the burden he carried earlier in the season.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR RBNY?
A brief return to the top, by virtue of playing on Friday evening, was cut short when Sporting Kansas City beat DC United to regain their place at the summit. New York are now second, two points off of Sporting KC and one clear of Houston.
From a selection point of view, it’s clear that Backe will find a way to include his most high profile players. As long as Cahill, Le Toux, Cooper and Henry continue to win points in their current set up I’m sure Backe will stick with it. Should he ever have the luxury of a fully fit squad it will be interesting to say what he does with the back four. Marquez and Conde will expect to return whilst Pearce, Holgersson, Barklage, Miller and Lade all have good claims to a first team spot.
August 19th 2012 – MLS Regular Season
Vs. PORTLAND TIMBERS (H) @Red Bull Arena.