Henry Watch – New York Red Bulls 2 Philadelphia Union 0

July 21st 2012 – MLS Regular Season

Vs. PHILADELPHIA UNION (H) @Red Bull Arena.

TEAMS

NEW YORK RED BULLS – 4-4-2

Gaudette; Barklage, Miller, Conde, Holgersson; McCarty, Lindpere, Lade, Le Toux; Henry, Cooper.

PHILADELPHIA UNION – 4-2-3-1

MacMath; Williams, G. Farfan, Okugo, Valdes; Carroll, Lahoud; Martinez, M. Farfan, Pajoy; McInerney.

PREAMBLE

New York’s recent intense schedule culminated with the visit of Philadephia Union on Saturday afternoon.  Three games in a week represented a good opportunity to rack up some points however, given the injuries suffered this season, it was also a test of endurance. It was a test which most players have passed, much to the relief of Hans Backe.

Whilst Heath Pearce, Teemu Tainio and Rafa Marquez are in various stages of recovery, it was encouraging to see Conde and Henry make it through the first two games and still be available this time out. Recent team selections and transfer activity had led some to speculate that Henry might start this one from the bench however this was not to be. Henry took up his usual place alongside Cooper with Le Toux asked to play wide right with a licence to drift inside and fill the space vacated when the captain drops deep.

Philadelphia have disappointed this season. After finishing third in the East in 2011 they would have been expected to mount a similar tilt for the playoffs this year. That challenge has failed to materialise and they languish second bottom of the conference. 

Recent Red Bull’s acquisition Sebastien Le Toux was surprisingly traded to Vancouver from Philadelphia in the close season, a move facilitated in part to accommodate the arrival of Freddy Adu. Adu, who achieved global notoriety after signing with the MLS at just 14, is Philadelphia’s most potent creative weapon however he missed this weekends journey to the Big Apple owing to a “team matter”. It remains unconfirmed as to whether his absence was linked to his mid week appearance at a Philadelphia night club.

HIGHLIGHTS

With Backe looking to juggle his roster of striking talent the first chance to impress fell to Le Toux. After Kenny Cooper had tested MacMath from range Le Toux closed in on the rebound only to sky his effort. The miss was greeted with the customary demonstrative body language of Thierry Henry.

Eventually a clear cut chance fell to Kenny Cooper. Connor Lade delivered an inviting ball into the box for the big striker to plant his head on and place beyond the helpless keeper. The Red Bulls leading scorer had been a bit quiet for a few weeks however the introduction of fresh competition saw him reassert his place as the first choice partner for Henry. 43 on the clock 1-0 RBNY.

Henry was having a quiet game by his standards, the intensity of recent days perhaps taking its toll however, on 53’ the captain combined well with Lade before clipping a perfect cross onto the head of Cooper who had no trouble doubling the lead. It was Henry’s sixth assist of the campaign and Cooper’s 13th goal.

Off the back of his sensational strike in midweek Henry saw the opportunity to top it here. As the ball arrived alongside him het set himself up with a delightful touch only to strike over the bar. A second world class strike in a week wasn’t to be.

Despite a late scare when Philadelphia had a goal wrongly rules out for offside, New York survived to lodge their second win in succession.

OVERALL PERFORMANCE

Henry was quieter than usual but the relative intensity of the recent programme, and the heat in which the games have been played, would provide something of an excuse for the 34 year old. He still managed an assist and will no doubt be relieved that others, most notably Cooper, are able to take responsibility and make a match winning difference.

Thierry’s next outing will be as part of the MLS All Stars who take on Chelsea on Wednesday night.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR RBNY?

This three points put New York top of the East, a position that was cemented after Sporting Kansas City were held to a goalless draw by New England on Saturday evening. The introduction of more firepower in Le Toux adds a new dimension to the Red Bulls armoury and has clearly focused Cooper. If they can manage to get the likes of Pearce and Marquez fit, and keep Henry and Conde healthy, the Red Bulls have a great chance of silverware this season.

NEXT FIXTURE

July 28th 2012 – MLS Regular Season

Vs. MONTREAL IMPACT (A) @Stade Saputo.

STOP PRESS…

On Monday night, news began to break that Everton had agreed a deal with MLS that would see Tim Cahill transferred to New York. The Red Bulls themselves had refused to confirm reports at the time of publishing.