UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – The report that Thierry Henry would not be traveling to Los Angeles for Friday's showdown with the LA Galaxy originally came as news to Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe.
“I haven’t picked the squad yet, so we'll see,” Backe said on Tuesday after training.
However, in a conference call later on Tuesday, the coach confirmed that Henry would not be able to play in Friday's match due to a nagging knee injury. The forward did extensive fitness and agility work with the team’s training staff on Tuesday but did not participate in drills.
Surgery is not needed for the injury, which is similar to the one that Henry suffered prior to the 2002 World Cup. The plan for the Red Bulls striker is for rehabilitation and continued stretching of the injured knee, said Backe, who called the injury "a soft one."
“He can’t really handle the pain,” said Backe of the injury.
In Henry's absence, it seems likely that forward Juan Pablo Ángel and recent addition Mehdi Ballouchy will form the striker partnership. Ángel was relegated to a substitute role last Thursday night for New York’s 2-2 road draw with FC Dallas, while Ballouchy started as a withdrawn forward behind Henry.
“That’s probably the first choice,” Backe said of an Ángel-Ballouchy forward tandem.
Kristian R. Dyer can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012