TUCSON, Ariz. – They may not have combined to score, but it didn’t matter. Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper both got on the board in the New York Red Bulls’ 2-1 win over the LA Galaxy in the Desert Diamond Cup on Wednesday night, and each striker was full of praise for his partner.
Wednesday's match marked only the second time New York's high-profile forwards took the field together, and it was in stark comparison to last week's friendly against Pumas UNAM, in which neither player found the back of the net.
“I don’t know if you guys take it for granted, but that was an amazing finish,” Henry told reporters of Cooper’s opener in the 31st minute. “One touch, first post.”
HIGHLIGHTS: New York 2, LA 1
Cooper was the recipient of a pass from rookie left back Connor Lade. The newly acquired striker had all the time in the word to key up his shot and fire it past Galaxy ‘keeper Josh Saunders for his third goal of the preseason.
Henry added to the Red Bulls advantage in the second half, finishing a play he initiated. In the 63rd minute, the French Designated Player passed to Dane Richards on the right wing, and the Jamaican sent a pretty chip into the box that Henry powerfully headed past Saunders.
Cooper is duly impressed with the former Arsenal and Barcelona man in just his second game alongside him.
“It’s an incredible privilege to have an opportunity to be on the same field as Thierry,” the former Portland Timber told reporters. “He’s a hero of mine and I think anyone in the world would love the opportunity to play with him. I feel very fortunate to have had two opportunities to do that now. His qualities, obviously – his goal – [were] fantastic tonight. And his general play was fantastic as well.”
Henry occupied a more deep-lying position on Wednesday night, operating behind Cooper in more of a playmaking role. The Frenchman tried on several occasions to find his target man, but wasn’t successful in doing so. But Henry is happy to play that role, especially with forward Luke Rodgers’ return delayed as he attempts to clear up his visa issues back in England.
“Kenny or Luke or whoever I’m playing with – it’s kind of nice when they can stretch a defense and I can drop,” Henry said.
Until Rodgers returns, however, the show is Henry’s and Cooper’s to run. And Henry is hopeful the Red Bulls will get more performances like the ones Cooper is turning in this preseason.
“Hopefully he can [continue] do that for us,” Henry said, “and when Luke comes, it will be great to have a lot of different type of options to play forward.”