HARRISON, N.J. — Perhaps no one at Red Bull Arena for Wednesday’s MLS All-Star game was in a more familiar position than Thierry Henry.
Not only was the New York Red Bulls striker playing in his home stadium, he was facing the same team — Manchester United — with whom he had many epic battles during his nine-year tenure with Arsenal.
And while that familiarity did not help him score or slow down the Manchester United train — which rolled out of New Jersey with a 4-0 blowout victory — the Frenchman was still content with how he and the rest of the offense played in the first half of Wednesday’s loss.
“We only had one day to prepare for the game, but I thought we had some good moves and could have scored,” said Henry, who came out at halftime after making his first MLS All-Star appearance. “That’s just the way it is.”
The MLS All-Stars indeed generated some quality scoring chances early, and were arguably the better team over the first 20 minutes.
In the seventh minute, a crafty passing sequence between Henry, Sporting Kansas City’s Omar Bravo and the Galaxy’s David Beckham led to a good shot on net, and Beckham nearly had another goal on a blast from distance later in the half.
Henry, while mostly held in check, did make some good runs along the wing, with his home fans screaming behind him.
“Early on, we could have sat in front of the box and tried to clear them on contact but we wanted to play,” said Henry, the league’s leading scorer so far this season with 11 goals. “I think we did. And we did it well. The only thing is when you play a team like Man. United, when they want to score, they’ll score. And we had some chances and didn’t score.”
New England’s Sharlie Joseph, who played behind Henry in the midfield, echoed the Frenchman’s sentiments.
“We did what we wanted to do in terms of possessing and creating chances but they were just the better finisher,” Joseph said.
For the 33-year-old Grenadian midfielder, however, getting the chance to play alongside superstars like Henry was more important than the final score.
“I was not disappointed one bit by how good he was on the ball and how good of a teammate he was,” said Joseph, who had never before played with Henry. “That’s what the league is about. To me, he’s one of the best players in the league.”
Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United’s legendary manager, agreed, singling out Henry as one of the MLS players that impressed him most.
“Thierry Henry showed that change of pace,” Ferguson said. “He’s still a great threat.”