Henry hopes to leave lasting legacy on MLS' young players

HARRISON, N.J. – Thierry Henry is "dying" to win an MLS Cup, but there is something he craves even more than that.

Following the New York Red Bulls training session on Thursday morning at Red Bull Arena, Henry stood and talked to head coach Hans Backe and assistant coach Jan Halvor Halvorsen. The trio discussed the team’s attitude heading into Saturday's game against the Columbus Crew (7 pm ET, watch LIVE online) for approximately 10 to 15 minutes in what was just the latest piece of evidence of Henry’s leadership qualities.

That might be nothing new to New York fans given Henry’s well-documented ultra-competitive nature, but the Red Bulls captain revealed to reporters afterwards that he wants to make a major impact in helping cultivate talented MLS players for the future.

“On a personal point of view, especially I came here to help this game develop,” said Henry. “It would be more satisfying in a way for me when I leave in two years’ time that some players got better playing alongside me and helping the game develop than winning the MLS.

“Now don’t get me wrong, that’s the aim. But I said when I’m going to retire, finally, the beauty of it for me will be if I see for example Connor Lade being in the [US] national team and one day come up to me and say, ‘You know what? You helped me throughout my career,’ and stuff like that. That for me will be a better victory than winning the MLS.

“At the end of the day, me winning it with the Red Bulls is not going to change how the game is improving here. But me talking to the guys and them listening can be a massive difference.”

Despite that admission, he also emphasized how much he wants to win an MLS Cup before his career comes to a close – not just for himself but also for his teammates, the club and especially the fans who have gone the franchise's16-year history without seeing their team lift a major trophy.

“They’ve been suffering for a little while,” said Henry. “We know it’s not easy to win in New York, but we’re going to have a go this year and first off think about making the playoffs, that’s the most important thing. But again, don’t get it twisted. I want to win the MLS Cup. But remember what I said [before], that is also important for me.”

Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.