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.
REAL Salt Lake 2-0 New York Red Bulls
Saturday, March 17
Rio Tinto Stadium – Sandy, UT
By Kevin Mooney
The New York Red Bulls' early season woes continued as they suffered their second defeat of the year on the road to Real Salt Lake. The match statistics were remarkably even, but Real outshone the visitors in the first half. Fabian Espindola's 39th-minute goal gave the home side the lead just before the break and Luis Gil's second half strike put the game out of reach.
New York tried a different formation at the Rio Tinto stadium, playing Thierry Henry alone up front in a 4-5-1. Red Bull goalkeeper Ryan Meara was tested early, but managed to stop a good scoring opportunity when he blocked a dangerous cross by Real's Ned Grabavoy in the 16th minute.
Meara stepped up again 20 minutes later when Fabian Espindola sent Paulo Jr. through for a one-on-one opportunity. Meara charged out and knocked the ball loose. As Paulo Jr. stumbled over the loose ball, the referee ended the threat by calling a handball against the Brazilian.
But Real would get their goal. After a New York giveaway, Paulo Jr. chipped a pass over the Red Bull defense to an on-side Espindola. The Argentine stormed forward for another one-one-one chance, and this time fired it under Meara for the 1-0 lead.
Henry had a chance to equalize a few minutes later, but his re-direction of a Roy Miller cross went square into the arms of Real goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
Red Bulls' manager Hans Backe made two changes at the half, most notably bringing on striker Kenny Cooper to restore the 4-4-2. Cooper made his presence known almost immediately, forcing a save by Rimando with a shot from distance.
Henry had another opportunity to pull his team equal in the 54th minute when Cooper found the Frenchman alone near the top of the penalty area. But Henry's shot could only find Rimando's waiting arms.
Real was on the attack again four minutes later when Sebastián Velásquez found Espindola in the middle of the penalty area. Meara denied Espindola the brace, but the rebound fell in the path of Luis Gil who fired it home for the 2-0 lead.
With New York's chances fading, Henry nearly scored a highlight reel goal in the 64th minute. Dax McCarty threaded a pass to the striker, and with his back to the goal Henry controlled the pass and hit a bicycle kick that just missed the far post. Henry ended the game with four shots - two on goal.
The loss keeps the Red Bulls at the bottom of the MLS Eastern Conference. But the Red Bulls get their first chance this season to play on home soil when the Colorado Rapids visit on Sunday, March 25th. Arsenal's partner club in MLS currently sit at the top of the Western Conference, tied with Real Salt Lake.19 Mar 2012