Best of 2012: Henry's backheel takes Assist of the Year
MLSsoccer.com polled 20 of our editors, writers, videographers and statistics specialists to bring you the Best of 2012, running Dec. 17 through Jan. 2. Each day we'll hand out an award in a variety of categories culled from the storylines of MLS and US international players, including Biggest Controversy, Breakout Player of the Year and, via fan vote revealed on Dec. 31, the Moment of the Year.
Contributor and Monday Postgame writer John Bolster lends a helping hand to break down the Assist of the Year, won this time in impressive fashion by New York Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry.
There could have been a separate ballot in the assist category this season—for best assist by Thierry Henry.
The legendary French striker doled out 12 assists in 25 games this year, and several of them were award-worthy.
But his backheel flick to Mehdi Ballouchy for the final goal in New York’s 4-2 win over Montreal on March 31 won the balloting, and deservedly so: The skill on display adds new dimension to the word “slick,” and the vision—watch him turn immediately to see if Ballouchy puts it away; he knew the Moroccan midfielder was there—is an optometrist’s dream. A sparkling play, conjured in an instant.
2. Thierry Henry to Kenny Cooper, New York vs Toronto, Sept. 29
The top honor could just as easily have gone to this one: See Henry control a bouncing ball under pressure in the box, beat a defender, and, as three opponents converge on him—zip—find Kenny Cooper so wide open on the far side of the goal he might have felt lonely. Brilliant.
3. Davide Chiumiento to Sebastien Le Toux, Vancouver vs Colorado, June 16
Do you miss Chiumiento? Whitecaps fans sure do. Here he is curling back with the ball in midfield and Fed-Exing a delivery over the top to the foot of Sebastien Le Toux, who one-times it into the Colorado net for the lone goal in Vancouver’s June 16 win. All while rocking a Mohawk.