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 5-2 Montreal Impact
Saturday, March 31
Red Bull Arena – Harrison, NJ
By Kevin Mooney
Home sweet home. After dropping their first two matches of the season - both on the road - the New York Red Bulls won their second-straight home game in dominating fashion. Despite struggling early and trailing 1-0 and 2-1, the Red Bulls scored three goals in the second half to beat the visiting Montreal Impact. Arsenal legend Thierry Henry led the way with his first MLS hat-trick - and added an assist for good measure.
New York got off to a slow start against Montreal, with the expansion team bossing them in the midfield for the first quarter hour. So it was no surprise when Sanna Nyassi put the visitors ahead in the 19th minute when he pounced on a poor clearance by Dane Richards and slotted the ball past Red Bulls' goalkeeper Ryan Meara from close range.
It took less than 10 minutes for the Red Bulls to respond. Rafa Marquez found Henry in front of the goal with a high, floating cross. The Frenchman leaped in front of Montreal's Zarek Valentin and headed the ball past Donovan Ricketts for the equalizer.
But New York would soon find themselves down by a goal again. In the 38th minute, Justin Mapp fired a low shot from the edge of the area to beat Meara and retake the lead.
Montreal looked to take that one goal lead into halftime, but just before the referee called time, Impact defender Matteo Ferrari fouled Dax McCarty in the penalty area. Kenny Cooper stepped up, sent Ricketts the wrong way, and calmly buried the spot kick. The Red Bulls would not look back.
Henry scored his second of the night in the 56th minute after McCarty capitalized on a poor Montreal pass and found the striker inside the D. Henry turned and fired a shot to the near post past a fully-extended Ricketts to hand New York their first lead of the game.
Sixteen minutes later, Henry would turn provider. With his back to the goal, Henry flicked the ball with his right foot into the path of Mehdi Ballouchy, who tapped it home.
Just before the end of regulation, and still searching for his first MLS hat-trick, Henry slid the ball to a Cooper, who was surging forward with several other teammates. The striker launched a powerful shot from outside the area, which Ricketts managed to block. But Henry followed his strike partner's shot, pounced on the rebound and capped his night with an easy finish.
His last goal lifted him into first place in the MLS scoring race with five goals. Henry also sits second in the league in assists (3) and shots on goal (9) for the season.
The win lifted the Red Bulls into second in the East, six points behind leaders Sporting Kansas City. Next up is a trip to conference rival Columbus Crew on Saturday.