Still got it: Thierry Henry inspires New York Red Bulls to victory, remains undecided about future

HARRISON, N.J. – On a night when Bradley Wright-Phillips broke a significant New York Red Bulls record, it was Thierry Henry’s performance that threatened to steal the headlines.

A fired-up Henry turned in his latest masterful showing to avoid a disastrous home defeat on Saturday, scoring two harder-than-they-looked goals and assisting on another. The end result was a 4-2 victory over the last-place Montreal Impact – who have not won on the road yet this season – and the Red Bulls captain’s 83-minute outing was talked about afterwards nearly as much as Wright-Phillips becoming the club’s single-season scoring leader.

The quality of Henry’s performance, which again demonstrated his high soccer IQ, incredible technique and superb finishing ability, further fueled questions about his uncertain future. The just-turned 37-year-old striker has not yet announced whether he will retire at season’s end, sign a new contract to prolong his stay with the Red Bulls or look to play elsewhere, but there can be little doubt that he can still deliver the goods for another season should he opt to extend his illustrious career.

Still, do not expect a decision any time soon just because his world-class skills are far from diminishing.

“Right now, like you saw, that fire is still in me,” said Henry after the game. “All I’m thinking about right now is to make sure we can make the playoffs. You know this league is about having a good run. … [MLS has] a long break, so I’m going to have long, long, long thoughts about what’s next. Right now, I’m thinking about the next game.”

That focused mentality helps explain why Henry continues to be so successful. Aside from adding to his league co-leading assist total by feeding Wright-Phillips for the first of the Englishman’s two tallies on Saturday, Henry ignited New York’s rally by scoring a pair of goals that looked effortless but were anything but.

Henry first pushed home an Eric Alexander cross from the left with a diving header that seemingly came out of nowhere in the 53rd minute. The French forward gave his side the lead 14 minutes later when he received a pass from Dax McCarty at the top of the box, opened up his hips and perfectly directed a shot through a crowded area before it grazed far the post and went in.

Technical perfection.

“He picked the team up and put them on his back,” said New York head coach Mike Petke. “He was not going to lose this game.”

With reminders like Saturday’s dominant performance happening more often than not in recent months, Red Bulls coaches and teammates are crossing their fingers that Henry picks New York over retirement whenever the final decision arrives.

“I don’t want it to be it for him,” Wright-Phillips said. “But whatever he wants to do, he does. He’s done that his whole career. Hopefully, he stays.”

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