Watching Thierry Henry struggle in the heat against FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium, New York Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke contemplated subbing out his captain in the second half.
It was a good thing for the Red Bulls that Petke never went through with that.
Minutes after Petke thought about replacing a fatigued Henry, the star striker delivered the game-winning assist to help New York pick up a 1-0 victory Sunday afternoon over FC Dallas. Henry had the awareness to cut a pass back to an open Bradley Wright-Phillips rather than shoot on frame himself in the 71st minute, and that decision helped New York see off an FC Dallas side that was shorthanded even before it lost Je-Vaughn Watson to a straight red card in the 10th minute of the match.
The play was a touch of class from the 36-year-old Henry – who was playing in his 100th MLS regular season game – and a reminder of what he can still bring to the table even when he is not scoring.
“That’s why you keep someone like him on, because he comes up in moments like that,” said Petke in his postgame remarks. “That’s why he’s paid what he’s paid and that’s why he is who he is and why he’s been where he’s been. He sees things like that, and great assist today for Bradley.”
Henry’s assist helped New York overcome a subpar performance to win their first road game of the season, but it was not the only key moment from a Red Bulls player.
“There were a couple of things that he did right before the PK that made me feel more confident,” said Robles, who has now faced six penalty kicks this season. “I felt like he tipped me to which side he was going to go. At the end of the day, it was what was necessary to get three points.”
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With the victory, New York are now unbeaten in their last four matches. The club has found its groove after a tough and winless start to the year, and Sunday proved that the Red Bulls can now win games even if they aren’t playing at their best.
“We had to play better than what we did,” said Henry. “At the end of the day, we won. It’s a good win for us, but I don’t think Dallas deserved to lose.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by email at Franco8813@gmail.com.