Henry scores in Red Bulls debut

French international makes his mark ahead of trip to Houston

Thierry Henry will wear #14 for the Red Bulls.

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

HARRISON, N.J. – The result of Thursday night’s 2-1 loss to Tottenham in the
opening match of the Barclays New York Challenge will soon be forgotten, but the
importance may live on for a generation.

A Thierry Henry goal in the 25th minute off an assist from Joel
Lindpere
gave the Red Bulls the lead and opened the scoring account for the
former Barcelona striker, now in his New York kit.

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HIGHLIGHTS

Henry, who was treated to a loud and prolonged standing ovation when
announced to the crowd of 20,312 at Red Bull Arena as part of the Starting XI,
was clearly the star of the night. Since last week when he was unveiled to the
media as a member of the Red Bulls, Henry’s arrival in New York has made
headlines.

But his arrival at Red Bull Arena on Thursday night was quite a bit more
low-key than the limousine he took to his press conference last week – Henry,
along with family and friends, took the train to Harrison from his hotel in New
York City.

“It was quite an experience riding in with the fans,” Henry said about his
train trip. “But for me, it was the quickest way to come to the game.”

The obvious offensive spark Henry provided his new team didn't take to long
to come, either, thanks to some deft touches by the Red Bulls. Macoumba Kandji collected the ball in the
final third, drawing two defenders with him.

The ball ended up with Lindpere on the left side, who made a move past his
marker and got free. Lindpere said that in that position along the endline, he
always tries “to put that hard pass in front of goal.” Henry reached for the
ball, sliding and making contact as he deflected the Lindpere pass across goal
and into the back of the net.

Henry’s dive made the effort a goal.

“Actually, he’s taller than I thought,” joked Lindpere after the match.

The Red Bulls looked solid in the midfield as they rode Henry’s goal to a
halftime lead over the English Premier League side. Henry’s presence on the
field opened space for Kandji and Lindpere to push forward and Dane
Richards
consistently found space behind the Tottenham defense.

Often, Henry would instruct Kandji to stay high while he dropped back to
midfield. The result was that the Frenchman pulled defenders with him, isolating
Kandji in the attacking third with space to move.

“He talks to you throughout the game – he helps you,” Kandji said after the
match, who noted that Henry’s speed and positioning opened up the game for the
New York offense.

The Red Bulls showed surprisingly well against the Champions League-bound
club, holding possession and creating numerous opportunities. Despite their
strong run of play in the first half, Tottenham would equalize in the 62nd
minute via a goal by captain Robbie Keane. Ten minutes later, Gareth Bale would
give the English side the go-ahead goal despite a diving effort by Seth
Stammler
to clear the effort.

Despite the two goals in a 10-minute span, the Red Bulls walked away pleased
by their performance against one of the better teams in the world.

“We looked at it as a chance to get back on the right foot defensively,” said
defender Tim
Ream
.

Despite the loss and conceding the lead, the night was owned by No. 14 and
the goal he scored – and Red Bulls fans hope it will be the first of many for
his new club.

“This is a player who can make things happen by himself,” head coach Hans
Backe said after the match.

Henry said this match was a good chance to gauge his fitness with his goal
being to play 90 minutes in the next league match, an Aug. 31 fixture in
Houston. By his estimation, he is 10 to 15 days from being fully fit. But most
importantly, Henry says his focus is on helping the team.

“It’s not me or two or three," Henry said. "It’s the whole team."

Kristian R. Dyer can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed
at twitter.com/kdyer1012