UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – In the NFL and NBA, teams sometimes wear throwback jerseys to pay homage to their history. MLS remains in its infant stage, so retro jerseys are probably still a bit away from being regularly used or seen.
But, as Thierry Henry recently proved, there are other ways to pay tribute to the past.
Henry has worn a black-and-red, striped captain’s armband in the last two Red Bulls’ home games (a 2-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City and 4-1 win over Toronto FC), the same colors and design of the New York/New Jersey MetroStars, the team that played in MLS before the Red Bull corporation bought the club in 2006.
Henry, who arrived to MLS in 2010, never played for the MetroStars, but that didn’t stop him from coming up with the idea of showing his respects to the tradition of the club, a tradition that still lives on with many fans to this day.
“That was my way to give a shout-out to the MetroStars,” Henry told reporters on Thursday. “As you can see and as I can see, there a lot of guys that coming to the game with the MetroStars shirt. We all know and well aware and understand that this is a Red Bulls team, that’s not going to change.
“But every now and then,” he added, “you can always give a shout-out to where the team started.”
Wearing the red-and-black armband, a symbol of both the excitement and pain that came for MetroStars fans during the club’s initial years, was not the only way Henry showed appreciation of the past. The 35-year-old striker, who earlier this season said he wants the Red Bulls to win the MLS Cup soon so as to end the fans’ 16-year suffering, also walked over to the supporters’ section and pointed to his armband after scoring off a delicately lobbed effort for the fourth goal in the Red Bulls’ win against Toronto FC.
It was a gesture that has been talked about at length by Red Bulls fans and that moment is sure to be a lasting image in the club’s history going forward, even if all Henry meant by it was to show people he is cognisant of the club’s past.
“Every now and then you’ve got to remind people that you kind of know about their history and it takes time but you can see we’re trying to play our hardest,” said Henry, who is unsure if he will wear the armband again in Saturday’s match against the Chicago Fire (3:30 pm ET, NBC, live chat on MLSsoccer.com). “We’re not good enough at times, obviously, but we’re trying to do our best.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.