HARRISON, N.J. – Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper’s partnership is proving tough to handle for opposing defenses.
The two forwards started their first game together for the New York Red Bulls on Sunday, and they accounted for all of the club’s goals in a 4-1 home-opening win over the Colorado Rapids.
“Today they really just clicked,” Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “They’re both great, great players. When they can feed of each other, we’re a very dangerous team.”
Henry, Cooper Happy With Goals, Win
The forward tandem got New York off to a flying start in the game. Henry scored just three minutes in after getting on the end of a mishit back pass by Rapids midfielder Ross LaBauex, and he finished with a low shot for his first goal of the season.
Henry then went from scorer to provider in the sixth minute, laying off a pass that Cooper ran onto and fired into the back of the net, sending the 21,024 fans in attendance at Red Bull Arena into a frenzy.
“He put the ball right in my path,” said Cooper. “He has everything. He creates goals, scores goals, and on that particular goal he put the ball right in my path. I could not have asked for a better pass.”
Henry and Cooper did not combine for another goal in the match, but they did each find the back of the net once more. Henry scored shortly after halftime off a pass from center back Wilman Conde, and Cooper knocked in a low cross from Roy Miller late.
“They were instrumental in our win today,” said Conde.
That Henry and Cooper made such an impact is not much of a surprise, especially considering that the Red Bulls have looked at their most dangerous this season when the two are on the field together.
In the season-opening loss to FC Dallas, the RBNY looked stagnant on offense until Cooper was inserted as a second-half substitute. The former US International injected much-needed energy and that opened up the game for Henry, who assisted on the Red Bulls’ lone goal that day with a sublime pass to Cooper.
The two were not as dangerous in the loss to Real Salt Lake last weekend, but when they played together New York’s offense was able to pose more of a threat.
“You could kind of see it as preseason went along,” said Meara of the partnership. “When Titi got down [to the training camp] in Arizona, you could see in training, just glimpses of it. Obviously, with any partnership like that, there’s going to be growing pains.”
That much was obvious in the win over Colorado. On a few instances, Henry was visibly frustrated with balls that Cooper did or did not play.
Cooper acknowledged that after the game and admitted that the tandem is still a work in progress.
“I hope that with each game, if I’m out there with him, he’ll feel comfortable with me,” said Cooper. “I’m hungry to get better every day. He’s someone I can learn from along with a lot of other players here.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.
HIGHLIGHTS: NY vs COL