Backe hails Henry: "Best performance for Red Bulls"

HARRISON, N.J. – It was 684 minutes in the making, but Red Bulls forward Thierry Henry finally found the back of the net again for the Red Bulls in Saturday night’s emphatic 3-0 win over San Jose.

Heading home a Luke Rodgers cross from the right side of the penalty area in the 88th minute, Henry’s first goal of the MLS season capped a week in which the former French international missed practice to treat what he called a “chronic” Achilles injury. He recovered in time to be a starter and leave his mark with a goal and assist against San Jose.

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Henry downplayed the significance of his goal – his first goal scored in league play since Sept. 11, 2010. It was the third and final NYRB goal of the match.

“It was more annoying than important, because it didn’t really have an effect on the game but I tried everything I could do to score and I finally did,” Henry said. “But the more important thing is that we worked hard.

“Luke Rodgers and I tried to put pressure on their defense. We played the same way against Philadelphia but we didn’t score. Hopefully in the future we can do the same.”

“Annoying” also describes how San Jose’s defense would view Henry, who popped up repeatedly deep in the final third to run in and around the Earthquakes backline.

“You could see with Thierry today, he was different class today, his touch on the ball,” manager Hans Backe said. “Every striker needs sometimes to score, but he set up today a lot of final passes, and he was very composed on the ball.

“He was strong on one-versus-one’s as a target, so this was his best performance so far for Red Bull. If he can stay on this level, we definitely have a player who can make a difference in this league.”

With five shots in the match, three of which were on goal, it was a frustrating night in the making for Henry before his late-game strike. At one point the Frenchman appeared to exchange words with the supporters’ end, which could be heard growing restless with every missed chance.

Henry did not divulge after the match what was said toward the South Ward.

“I think they were getting frustrated, like me,” Henry told MLSSoccer.com. “I think they wanted me to score, I wanted to score.”

It was all forgotten after the final whistle as Henry lingered after the match and provided a round of applause to the supporters who braved the rain and were rewarded with Henry’s soaked jersey which was thrown into the Empire Supporters Club.

In the end it proved a golden night for Henry, who showed instant chemistry with Rodgers in a week in which he overcame an Achilles injury that has plagued him since his days with Arsenal in 2004.

“I just want to go out there and help my team, and sometimes I haven’t been able to do that because of the Achilles,” Henry said. “Today I felt better and hopefully it can stay like this.”