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Backe: Henry "absolutely" will start in Houston

UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Thierry Henry will "absolutely" start in his MLS league debut on Saturday in Houston, according to New York Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe. Though he likely won't go a full 90.

"If we’re lucky, perhaps 60 minutes,” Backe said of how long he expects the French superstar to play at Robertson Stadium. Both Backe and Henry estimate it'll be two to three weeks until New York's newest DP will be fully fit.

On Wednesday after practice, Henry told a teammate that his legs still feel heavy. Despite rounding into form, he counts last week’s Barclays New York Challenge as a success. The Red Bulls striker played 45 minutes in both matches. In his eyes, the experience against Tottenham and then Manchester City sets the team up for league success.

“I think we had two great games against Tottenham, Manchester City,” Henry said. “Hopefully we can get something good out of this weekend.”

And after two exhibitions, Backe gets to unleash his marquee signing on MLS. He cautions that Henry won’t get much space or time on the ball in league play but he knows the pedigree of the player now wearing No. 14 for the club.

“He’s so clever, intelligent – he’s so mobile,” Backe said. “I don’t think defenses can close him down.”

Kristian R. Dyer can be reached for comment at and followed at