UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – As the New York Red Bulls fell to FC Dallas this past Sunday in their season opener, Thierry Henry was reminded of last year. And he‘s not happy about that.
As so often happened in 2011, the Red Bulls failed to play mistake-free soccer, and it cost them. Two flubbed clearances led to an early goal and a mis-hit back pass giftwrapped Dallas their second, paving the way for a painful 2-1 loss for the Red Bulls.
“It reminded me of last year: two mistakes, two goals,” Henry said after Wednesday morning’s practice. “That was the difference between the two teams. We have to stop that or we’re going to have the same season again.”
That is something the former France international wants to avoid at all costs, stating that many games last season had to be played like a cup final due to the team’s error-prone ways.
HIGHLIGHTS: FC Dallas 2, New York 1
“With [head coach Hans Backe] the other day, we counted at least 19 goals that we conceded like that since we’ve been here,” said Henry. “That can be avoided. It’s not like they outplayed us on the two goals. They were two mistakes. It does happen. I do mistakes, everybody does, but we have to correct that.”
Adding to his frustration was the team’s inability to execute head coach Hans Backe’s gameplan. Henry did not go into too many specifics as to what the team’s original strategy was heading into the season-opening match in Dallas, but he did voice his displeasure with how the team played.
“We do talk about something at the beginning of the game that we’re going to play and we don’t, so it is frustrating,” said Henry. “I don’t like to come down and ask for the ball. I would rather stay up front and make the run behind the defense, but sometimes you’ve got to do what the game is asking you to do and I had to drop.
“We’ve got to stick to the plan. The boss put a plan at the beginning of the game and we’ve got to stick to it, but we didn’t.”
Henry did not have an answer as to why that was, but the Red Bulls captain did mention that for New York to correct their mistakes, everyone from the top to the bottom of the roster has to make a concentrated effort to do so.
“This is not my team. This is our team,” said Henry. “Here’s the thing you don’t understand. In America, you guys love individual stuff. It is a team effort when you win the game, nothing to do with individual.
“You got to have a team and play as a team. It is a team effort, and it has to be a team effort if you want to win something. Then the individuals, every now and then, step up, but other than that it has got to be a team effort. I’ve said that for a very long time.”
Henry looked no further than the Red Bulls’ next opponent, Real Salt Lake, as a prime example of what he was talking about. RSL went on the road this past weekend and defeated the LA Galaxy 3-1, marking the first time since 2010 LA had lost at the Home Depot Center.
“Who scored for Salt Lake? First one [Sebastian] Velasquez, then [Fabián] Espíndola, then another day it can be someone else,” said the 34-year-old forward. “It’s not about who, what, DP, no DP. It is a team effort and everybody, from Fernando the kit man to us, has to pull the same weight and sometimes we don’t.”
Henry hopes the Red Bulls can begin to correct their mistakes starting this weekend when they pay a visit to Rio Tinto Stadium. If they don’t, a long and draining season could once again be in store for New York.
“We have to work on that,” Henry said, ”and make sure we can erase all those little things that at the end of the season makes a massive difference.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com.