MONTREAL — In his MLS coaching debut, Thierry Henry admitted that his team wasn’t the finished product. In the process, the former World Cup champion channeled his inner Montrealer and used a well-known 1976 Olympic Games reference.
“This is not perfect yet, far from it,” Henry said. “Not a lot of teams reach that. The only person I know that did that is Nadia Comaneci. Other than that, nobody gets a 10.”
After watching his team concede first off of a corner kick, Henry’s Montreal Impact found a way to beat Bruce Arena’s New England Revolution with a 2-1 comeback win. The Impact’s first-ever MLS season opener in front of their own fans was positive, with the team’s fight continuing to galvanize Henry.
"I keep on saying since I've been here that we have to fight, that’s the minimum that we have to do,” Henry said. “I think that's what you saw from the beginning, and let’s not get carried away, in [Concacaf Champions League against] Saprissa we wanted to press high and we did and we scored.”
“Today, I told the guys that we need to play a tiny bit higher and be brave on the ball. Because people always talk about being brave off the ball, I often talk about being brave on the ball.”
Matt Doyle analyzes Henry's tactics:
The Frenchman also thought that his midfield had a better outing than in the Concacaf Champions League, where the club has advanced to the tournament quarterfinals with an impending showdown vs. Olimpia of Honduras.
“Many times [in the CCL games] we refused to play forward when we got the ball back to not fall into a counterattack or a 1-on-1,” Henry said. “Today we did that. We tried to repeat that and then set up in their zone and get them to move from left to right to free up our fullback or our forwards in the middle.”
“There were moments where we could’ve done more, but massively better on that front than what we did against Saprissa.”
Henry is undefeated in three games played in all competitions with the Impact. For Samuel Piette, who took over the captain’s armband for the injured Jukka Raitala, it was special to hand Henry his first MLS win in the season opener.
“Especially the way we did it. It wasn’t pretty the entire 90 minutes but we had a game plan and we put that on the pitch pretty well,” Piette said. “To get that first win takes the pressure off your shoulders. Especially in MLS, where we know how important it is to win at home and how difficult it is to win away.”