UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. — Thierry Henry returned to New York Red Bulls training on Monday in his most extensive session since cutting last week's preparation short after a right knee injury kept him from traveling to Houston for Saturday's 2-2 draw.
Henry was active in the small-sided and possession games on Monday, appearing to be close to full speed during the session. He left the field midway through training as the team, comprising mostly reserves, began to focus more on defensive tactics.
The former French international noted last Thursday following training that he had difficulty controlling the ball and passing it given the knee injury. He still struggles with the same issue. Although head coach Hans Backe said Henry looked "decent" in training on Monday, he noted his Designated Player still isn't 100 percent.
“[He] still has problems with the long passes where he has to open up,” Backe said.
Rafa Questionable: While Henry could perhaps make a return to the starting XI for this Wednesday’s home match against Colorado, defender Rafa Márquez appears to be far more questionable. According to Backe, the Mexican DP pulled his groin in warm-ups before the Houston game.
Márquez participated in regeneration on Monday morning, but Backe said he's unsure if the Mexican national team captain will be able to play against the defending MLS Cup champions.
Albright Delayed: After playing the second half of a friendly in Montreal two weeks ago, Chris Albright seemed poised to return to the field following preseason knee surgery.
Yet the veteran defender suffered a setback, and will soon go under the knife. Backe said on Monday that Albright will have hernia surgery this week that will sideline him for four to six weeks.
Ballouchy Buoyant: After several rough outings earlier in the season, Mehdi Ballouchy was in danger of becoming persona non grata in the eyes of many New York fans. On Saturday night, he got a reprieve in the form of his late-game equalizer.
The goal, in which the midfielder made a bee line to the near post on a corner kick and nodded in Joel Lindpere’s floated ball, did nothing to elevate the player’s confidence. It was already high, he says.
“I’m a very competitive guy,” Ballouchy said. “I work hard every day, do my thing every day. I do what I can for us to win the [Supporters'] Shield, to win the [MLS] Cup.”
In training on Monday, Ballouchy scored on three consecutive touches in a small-sided game.
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer