By Kevin Mooney
Without question, 2012 will be a memorable year for Thierry Henry. Two months after wrapping up a successful 2011 season for the New York Red Bulls, he packed his bags and headed to London to join Arsenal on loan. And with two game-winning goals -- including one on virtually his last kick with the Club -- the Frenchman only added to his legendary status.
But his time back at the Emirates had an expiration date, and he returned to America for his third season with the Red Bulls. USA.Arsenal.com tracked Henry's progress throughout the 2012 season. Below is a brief summary of the first half of his season.
The Red Bulls got off to a slow start in 2012, dropping their first two games of the season - both on the road. Still, the opening game against FC Dallas gave Red Bull supporters a glimpse of things to come as Henry developed a partnership with off-season acquisition Kenny Cooper and set up Cooper's first goal in a New York shirt.
The team and the captain found their form when they made their season debut at Red Bull Arena on March 25. And they found it quickly. Henry scored the opener within three minutes, added an assist within six and completed his brace early in the second half as New York cruised to a 4-1 win over the Colorado Rapids.
And then Henry stepped up his play even more. In the following game against the Montreal Impact, he netted his first MLS hat-trick and added another assist in the 5-2 win. With five goals and three assists, Henry had already eclipsed his totals from his debut season in just four games -- and earned the MLS Player of the Month award.
Match highlights courtesy of NewYorkRedBulls.com
Henry picked up where he left off in March and notched his third multi-goal game of the season. His two goal, one assist performance against Columbus Crew put him at the top of the MLS scoring chart and kept the Red Bulls near the top of the Eastern Conference.
But things began to take a turn the following week against the San Jose Earthquakes at home. Henry picked up an assist on Kenny Cooper's seventh goal of the season, but the visitors responded and New York slipped to a 2-2 draw. The following week, a visit to arch-rivals DC United saw the Red Bulls limp home after suffering a 4-1 loss. Henry did provide the lone bright spot with the consolation goal off a free-kick in the 72nd minute -- his eight of the season.
The Red Bulls closed out the month by returning to their winning ways, but it came at a cost. Shortly after giving his side a 1-0 lead, Henry left the game with a hamstring injury. It would be nearly a month before he would return to action.
Clip courtesy of NewYorkRedBulls.com
Even without the services of their captain and leading scorer, the Red Bulls went on a tear, winning their next four matches -- three of them on the road. Henry finally made his return on May 23, but visiting Chivas USA spoiled the day and secured a point at Red Bull Arena.
Not wishing to risk re-aggravating his hamstring injury, Henry sat out the next two matches -- US Open Cup ties: A 3-0 win over the Charleston Battery and a 3-1 loss at the hands of the Harrisburg City Islanders.
The MLS entered a two-week international break after the Red Bulls were ousted from the US Open Cup, and it seemed a good opportunity for Henry to completely recover from his injury and pick up where he left off in April. Instead, the striker suffered a calf injury while training on his own that would force him to miss the next two games.
Henry returned to action against DC United on June 24, but started the game on the bench. The Red Bulls built a 3-1 lead, but Head Coach Hans Backe put Henry on after DC came within one. He managed to get off two shots in 21 minutes as the Red Bulls hung on to the 3-2 win.
A trip to Toronto on the last day of the month saw Henry get his first start in five weeks. The day ended with a 1-1 draw and New York slipping into second place in the MLS Eastern Conference.
Coming soon: Henry returns to form as the Red Bulls chase a playoff spot.