After a successful loan spell in North London, Thierry Henry has begun his third season in Major League Soccer. The Arsenal legend is looking to build on his strong performances from 2011 and lead the New York Red Bulls to success as MLS kicks off its 17th season.
Each week, USA.Arsenal.com will provide a brief look at the progress of Thierry and the Red Bulls.
NEW YORK RED BULLS 4-1 Toronto FC
Saturday, September 29
Red Bull Arena – Harrison, NJ
By Kevin Mooney
After missing last weekend's 1-1 draw in New England, Thierry Henry showed why he is one of the sport's all-time greats on Saturday night. The Arsenal legend capped an incredible three-assist performance with a jaw-dropping goal in stoppage time against Toronto FC to lead the New York Red Bulls to a 4-1 win.
The visitors came out of the gates quickly and nearly struck in the second minute. Luis Silva found himself with a one on one opportunity, but his shot from inside the penalty area hit went just wide and bounced off the far post.
Toronto early pressure would pay off four and half minutes later. Ryan Johnson stunned the New York crowd and gave Toronto the early lead with a left-footed strike form 30-yards out.
But New York bounced back quickly. Henry's well-placed inswinging corner kick in the 13th minute was met by Marcus Holgersson, who headed home the equalizer from the edge of the six-yard box.
A minute later, Henry nearly created a second for New York. After picking up the ball from Kenny Cooper, the Frenchman floated a long pass over the top to his trike partner. Cooper was able to control the ball with his first touch, but his left-footed effort was parried by Freddy Hall.
The Red Bulls again had a chance to go ahead in the 23rd minute when Henry slipped a low cross inside for a cutting Tim Cahill, but Toronto defenders managed to break up the pass to keep the scoreline even.
But Toronto finally cracked under the New York pressure four minutes later. Henry flicked Wilman Conde's long pass out wide to Lloyd Sam and then broke forward. He picked up Sam's through-ball and looked ready to fire on goal, but as Hall rushed out his net the Frenchman cooly slid the ball to Cooper who sidefooted it home.
After going into the break with a 2-1 lead, the Red Bulls came back out looking for more. Henry had the first opportunity of the half, splitting two Toronto defenders just outside the area in the 51st minute. His low shot was on taget, buta diving Hall got a hand on it, sending it out for a corner.
As impressive as his first two assists were, Henry was at his most artistic in the 88th minute. Henry sent the ball outside to Jan Gunnar Solli and then cut inside the box. He then took a pass from Solli with his right foot, played it to his left and teed himself up for a shot. But as several Toronto defenders collapsed around him, he again found an unmarked Cooper to his left and delivered his 12th assist of the season.
Match highlights courtesy of NewYorkRedBulls.com
And he wasn't finished. In stoppage time, Cooper served up long low pass into Henry's path. With one touch he chipped the ball over the head of Hall from 25 yards out for his 14th goal of the season.
The win moved the Red Bulls into second place in the MLS Eastern Conference. They currently sit five points behind leaders Sporting Kansas City, but ahead of third-place Chicago on goal differential with just three games remaining. It all comes to a head when they host the Fire at Red Bull Arena next week and then Sporting KC on October 20th.
With just six games left in the regular season, the Red Bulls currently sit third in the MLS Eastern Conference. But a win on Wednesday against leaders Sporting Kansas City could catapult them to the top of the table.