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Henry 'dirty tactics' hurt Red Bulls' playoff chances

Frank Giase writes that Thierry Henry's dirty tactics have come at the worst time for the New York Red Bulls, who will be without the French striker when it faces Philadelphia on Thursday. A win in that game would clinch a playoff spot for the Bulls, but Henry is suspended for his ejection in last weekend's loss to Sporting Kansas City.

We’ve seen it before, writes Giase. The small kicks to the back of players’ legs behind the ball, a push here, an elbow there, all while the action -- and the attention of the referee -- is elsewhere. Henry has always walked a tightrope between star player and dirty player. Not the type of dirty player that comes in cleats-up on a tackle or slides in from behind on someone’s Achilles’ tendon, but the type who will make his physical presence known and send a message off the ball, all while the referee isn’t looking.

Usually he gets away with it, but not last Saturday. Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza bumped Henry off the ball near midfield with a legal shoulder challenge. Henry lost his balance and fell to his hands and knees. Espinoza moved toward the center of the field as Red Bulls midfielder Teemu Tainio closed in. Espinoza slid to push the ball to a teammate just as Tainio got there, and he remained on the ground for a moment. Meanwhile, Henry got up and began to follow the ball. He took two small steps, then four longer ones, with the final step with his right leg driving a knee into Espinoza's back.

Referee Kevin Stott, just a few feet behind the play with a clear view of the entire incident, was immediate and decisive in pulling out the red card. (VIDEO)

Read the whole story at The Star-Ledger »

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