[MLS SPOTLIGHT] He fluffed several chances before slotting one home in the final minutes to clinch a 3-0 Red Bull trouncing of San Jose Saturday night, but the biggest play of Thierry Henry’s night may have been a foul.
Whether or not a foul should have been called when Henry stripped an opponent of the ball near the corner flag to set up the second goal, the more important issue is while the Red Bulls have amassed an impressive array of talent, they can play fast and physical, and Henry – who has been bothered by an Achilles tendon injury – felt fit enough to mix it up.
Luke Rodgers – a battling, scrapping nuisance getting his first MLS start -- scored in the second minute to rock the Quakes, who stumbled nervously trying to get back into the game. Ten minutes after Rodgers’ goal, left back and captain Ramiro Corrales tried to evade Henry’s pressure, and the former French international clipped Corrales on the foot as he pried the ball loose. As Corrales sat on the grass appealing for a foul, Henry skimmed a pass across the face of goal that Rodgers tapped past a desperate lunge by keeper Jon Busch.
In the final minutes, after a few opportunities squandered by Henry, he arrowed to the back post to head home a great cross from Rodgers, who got the start up top with Henry in place of teenager Juan Agudelo. New York outshot the Quakes, 16-7, as newcomer Dwayne De Rosario played a minor role against his former team while the attack flowed through Henry, Rodgers, Dane Richards and Joel Lindpere.
Last year, before their playoff meeting in which San Jose stunned the Red Bulls, 3-2, on aggregate, New York head coach Hans Backe said his team wasn’t yet ready to win MLS Cup. At the time, he said, “Next year. “ Next year is here and barely underway.
While this match was tabbed as “revenge” for what the Quakes did in 2010, Backe and the boys know that real revenge is a long way off. Yet jumping on top of a team early at home and throttling its efforts to respond can earn a lot of points in a 34-game season.