HARRISON, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls finally picked up their first win of the season, and it was none other than Thierry Henry who delivered the goods.
Henry inspired the Red Bulls to a 2-1 win over rivals the Philadelphia Union on Saturday afternoon ar Red Bull Arena, coming off the bench despite dealing with a left MCL sprain and scoring a classy winner to end New York’s winless start to the 2013 campaign.
Neither side came out of the gates sharply, with both teams exchanging sloppy turnovers and a string of offside calls while feeling each other out in the early going. Philadelphia settled in quicker, but the hosts came alive near the 15-minute mark and had the more dangerous opportunities despite never really testing Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath in the first half.
Dax McCarty skewed his volley well wide in the 18th minute and Peguy Luyindula also failed to put one on frame when presented with a quality chance three minutes later. Jonny Steele also took part in the poor finishing, bending a shot from 14 yards out just over the crossbar after some solid hold-up play from Luyindula.
The action picked up after halftime, as New York broke through in the 55th minute through a shot from McCarty. Steele whipped in a ball from the left side and a swiveling McCarty managed to flick it past MacMath and off the far post with the outside of his boot despite being tightly marked.
The Union wasted little time in mustering up a response. Eight minutes after McCarty’s goal and seconds after entering the game for an ineffective Sebastien Le Toux, Conor Casey scored his first goal as a Philadelphia player, getting on the end of a long throw-in from Sheanon Williams and heading the ball in from close range with Red Bulls defender Markus Holgersson left flat-footed.
The Red Bulls pushed on for another goal and nearly got it on a pair of occasions. Henry missed on a stunning bicycle kick attempt in the 76th minute and MacMath blocked Steele's angled bid four minutes later.
A minute later, Henry came through in the clutch, bringing down a delicate pass from Luyindula with his thigh before beating MacMath with a smooth left-footed strike.
Both teams hit the road next week. The Union visit Crew Stadium to take on the Columbus Crew on April 6 while the Red Bulls face off with the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park a day later.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Thierry Henry||Subs don't get much more super than TH14, who lifted his team and netted the winner with a delightfully fluid finish near the end.|
|2||Dax McCarty||The Red Bulls' midfield dynamo was his usual relentless self, and he chipped in a resourceful goal to boot.|
|3||Conor Casey||The Union's new target man provided a useful physical presence up top. Caught Holgersson napping to draw Philly level.|