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.
Philadelphia Union 0-3 NEW YORK RED BULLS
Saturday, October 20
Red Bull Arena – Harrison, NJ
By Kevin Mooney
Thierry Henry scored between two Kenny Cooper goals as the New York Red Bulls eased past Philadelphia Union to finish the 2012 MLS regular season on a high note. After a season of ups and downs, the Red Bulls now move on to the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
A spot in the MLS playoffs was already assured, but the New Yorks Red Bulls' final place in the standings was not. Anything but a win against Philadelphia Union could have required New York to play in a one-game preliminary round.
New York got on the board early in the first half after Carlos Valdes fouled Tim Cahill in the penalty area. Cooper converted from the spot with a tricky stutter-step and powerful shot to the low corner.
Fifteen minutes later Henry went close. An unmarked Dax McCarty took a pass from the right flank and one-timed it into the path of Henry. The Red Bulls' captain tried to go wide to avoid a rushing Zac MacMath, but the Philadelphia keeper reached the ball before Henry could get a shot off.
But Henry would get another chance. In the 35th minute, he pounced on a poor pass by Union midfielder Michael Lahoud and strode towards the Philadelphia goal. He turned his defender and beat MacMath with a left-footed effort to the far post to double New York's lead. The goal -- Henry's 15th of the season -- matched his tally from 2011 but in four fewer games.
The Union had their chances to equalize early in the second half, but Cooper effectively sealed the win in the 66th minute. McCarty slid the ball to an onside Cooper as he drifted away from goal. The striker turned and fired in one motion, sending the ball past MacMath into the far corner.
The win means that the Red Bulls avoid a tricky one-game preliminary playoff round against Houston Dynamo on Halloween and a potential match-up with first-place Sporting Kansas City.
Instead New York will now take on arch-rivals DC United in the Eastern Conference semi-finals. The home-and-home starts on Saturday at Red Bull Arena and wraps up on November 7th in Washington. It marks the fourth time the two teams have faced off in the playoffs, with DC United winning the last three.