UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls may be off to a slow start this season, but captain Thierry Henry isn’t too concerned.
The reason? Henry believes the team is being hindered by the amount of games they are playing on the road.
New York will line up as visitors for the fifth time in their first seven matches on Saturday when they do battle with D.C. United at RFK Stadium (7 pm ET, MLS Live), and the star striker thinks their frequent-flyer status is a big reason why the club is 1-3-2 to start the campaign.
“It’s difficult to find a rhythm five games away in any league in the world, trust me,” Henry said. “Last year at least, [we played] the two first games away [then] we went back twice at home and then we went to start like a normal league. Home, away, home, away.
“If you look at our results away from home last year, they were not that great but the balance of bringing the confidence back when you came back at home, you won some games, so therefore you were like, ‘Oh, we struggled away but we’re winning at home.’ We can’t even find out if we can win at home because out of seven games we have five away.”
Henry insisted on multiple occasions that he wasn’t complaining about New York’s travel schedule. Instead, he said it was just an observation that he feels should be part of the discussion surrounding the Red Bulls’ woeful start to the year.
“It is not great, obviously, but it’s not that bad considering we are going to play five games on the road out of seven,” Henry said. “I don’t know why but that’s how it is and sometimes to start a league playing five games away, if you do what we just did right now, it’s difficult to find your confidence.
“Again, hear me out well, I’m just saying you have to take it into consideration because it is not that easy and we have seen in the past [that] teams that have started with a lot of games away from home never started well.”
While Henry may have a point considering the Red Bulls are 1-0-1 at home in 2013, he did admit that the club need to do a better job of closing out games, especially on the road.
“We just have to manage, at times, moments of the game better because obviously at times you’re going to be under some type of pressure,” he said. “Unfortunately at the moment, when we are under some type of pressure we concede a goal. We need to understand that better, that you can’t always be on top of a team for 90 minutes.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by e-mail at Franco8813@gmail.com.