HARRISON, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls’ 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire was just their second win in eight matches. It was their first shutout since early May. It moved them into second place in the Eastern Conference. And it was all made possible by a moment of genius from Thierry Henry.
The Red Bulls' captain and Designated Player lifted his team to a much-needed win inside a boiling Red Bull Arena on Wednesday, scoring a goal that is sure be watched over and over again by fans across the world.
GOAL: Henry turns half chance into lead
Henry’s decisive strike came in the 71st-minute of a slow-paced match that seemed headed for a scoreless draw. He got on the end of a diagonal pass from new teammate Sébastien Le Toux, chested the ball down and volleyed it with his left foot from a near-impossible angle past outstretched Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson; a flash of soccer brilliance that few in MLS can provide.
“Striker instincts,” Henry told reporters of his goal. “I went for goal and the ball went into the back of the net. I tried in the first half with my right and I disturbed a fan over there. I kicked the ball in the stands. Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t. But I’m never scared to try anything.”
The goal was Henry’s 10th of the season and first since netting the winner in a 1-0 victory over the New England Revolution on April 28. It was also the ounce of quality needed for New York to break a three-game winless streak.
“It’s an absolutely phenomenal goal,” said head coach Hans Backe. “Normally, when you have that angle, you have to use your left foot with that kind of volley. I mean, on the bench, I [thought], ‘This is over the bar or something like that.’ But it’s an absolutely phenomenal strike and probably one of the few guys that can do those type of goals.”
Goal aside, the match did take its toll on Henry. With his 82-minute performance on Wednesday, Henry has played 172 minutes in New York’s past two games, both of which have come in severely hot conditions. And while he admitted to feeling fatigued and said he'd never played in a hotter game in his career, Henry and the Red Bulls’ sights will quickly need to turn towards Saturday afternoon’s match against the resurgent Philadelphia Union.
“I remember us beating them in their place [in May], but if you remember the game, they played with 10 men and created a lot of chances, so we escaped that day,” said Henry. “We all know it won’t be an easy game. They always make it difficult for us.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.