USOC: "Bring on Thierry," Harrisburg tell Red Bulls
Although it would do nothing to help their cause, the Harrisburg City Islanders still hope New York Red Bulls superstar Thierry Henry shows up for Tuesday night's US Open Cup fourth-round match (7:30 pm ET, streamed live on newyorkredbulls.com).
"We'd like to see him," City Islanders head coach Bill Becher told MLSsoccer.com on Monday. "As great as he is and as much of a challenge he would present, our players would be excited and it would lift us even more when we play them."
The match is not yet sold out, but Harrisburg general manager John Gregg and his staff still plan on having anywhere between 2,000 to 3,000 people there. Still, it's the big question around the Harrisburg area: Is Henry coming?
"We're just assuming he is," said Gregg, who also addressed the field conditions which have proven to be a concern for Henry in the past. "It's not Wembley, but it's in the best shape it's been in for eight years."
WATCH: NYRB on loss to Harrisburg in 2010
Harrisburg's home field has been kind in their US Open Cup history. They've advanced in all three matches they've ever hosted and that includes the "Island Thriller" miracle against the New England Revolution in the third round last week. They came back from a 3-0 deficit in the final nine minutes of extra time to pull out the win in a penalty kick shootout.
Gregg confirmed that the Red Bulls did approach Harrisburg for a venue switch to Red Bull Arena but no agreement could be reached.
"I think it would have been a surprise if we weren't approached by any MLS team to change the venue," said Gregg, who also denied reports that Harrisburg reported NY for dressing an ineligible player in a case that ultimately led to a fine for NYRB. "We had ongoing negotiations, but it didn't work out on any of our parts. When it came down to it, we're playing in Harrisburg."
Having a home game against New York can only help as Harrisburg looks to get over the hump and knock out consecutive MLS teams in a USOC tournament for the first time. They will have 2010 to pull from when Harrisburg ousted NYRB, 1-0 in extra time.
"We're pretty relaxed, we played them in 2010," says Becher, who has been with the club since its inception in 2004. "If we can withstand the early surge from them and find ourselves, I think we can compete."