At the same time the curtain was closing on Thierry Henry’s historic playing career, Jim Curtin’s managerial one was rising.
It was a slow burn for Curtin at the Philadelphia Union, but he’s now got the club among the elite in MLS at the same time Henry returns to the league as part of the coaching fraternity.
“Before I left MLS, they started to build the team with Jim and they were struggling a lot,” Henry said in a video conference call with reporters. “But they gave him time to work. He put his system in place, and it eventually paid off. There are a lot of good players in the team. [Brenden] Aaronson is a player I like very much. [Alejandro] Bedoya is underrated. It has been a long-term work, it took time, but you can see the results now.”
Henry is just at the start of building his system with the Montreal Impact. There's been mixed results, including a devastating defeat to the Vancouver Whitecaps Wednesday that ended their quest to clinch a berth in the Canadian Championship Final.
Now Henry returns to a venue he called home for nearly five years, a place still near and dear to his heart when Impact will call Red Bull Arena a temporary home Sunday (7 pm ET | TVA Sports in Canada; MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US) when they host the Union.
“Personally, going back there will be touching as I played there for four-and-a-half years and I have friends there,” Henry said. “But in my team, nobody played there except games against the New York Red Bulls and they have no reference points there.”
No reference points, but the Impact will be hoping to leave there and head back to their New Jersey hotel with three points against a team that has won four of its last five games.
To do so, Henry will have to find a replacement for regular starting center back Rudy Camacho, who is serving a suspension after his sending off in Vancouver was at the focal point of the match-altering moments, which included a Fredy Montero penalty kick.
“We still don’t know who will play,” Henry said on Friday. “This morning, we worked to see how we will play. As of now, no decision has been taken on who will play in place of Rudy.”