November 7, 2012
The spotlight is on Henry to make an impact and stir the Red Bulls' drink
By Michael Lewis
Thierry Henry is the man who stirs the Red Bulls' drink.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue images
His soccer resume is second to none.
Among his numerous accomplishments, Thierry Henry has a World Cup, a European Championship and a UEFA Champions League title under his belt.
Quite impressive and quite remarkable.
While an MLS Cup would pale in comparison to that hat-trick of fabulous achievements, Henry is a man who lives in the present and doesn't bask in his past glory.
Today's task is simple: win the Major League Soccer championship.
The Red Bulls have a ways to go, but they are positioned to move on in the playoffs. They enter Wednesday night's second leg of their Eastern Conference semifinal aggregate series tied with D.C. United at one goal apiece. Playing at home should give the Red Bulls at least a slight advantage because they play much better at Red Bull Arena than on the road.
On Saturday night, Henry was not much of a factor in the game. Given his high status and expectations, that is not enough..
On the roster, the former French international is listed as a forward and any striker will tell you that he is only as good as the passes he receives. Sometimes that can be spin, other times true.
But Henry has expanded his role as a playmaking forward, running into the midfield for the ball and setting up his teammates. Just take a look at his statistics this season; 14 goals, 12 assists.
So, his impact is vital in a winner-take-all confrontation.
Henry doesn't have to dominate the game, connect for a hat-trick or score another Olimpico goal, the spotlight is on him to produce some magic, even if it is creating a vital goal.
Given what the sport is all about, the magic cannot be sustained for the entire 90 minutes. It can be made in a split second, whether it be a well-timed pass, a simple flick of the ball or an impeccably placed shot.
While Henry likes to remind the media that soccer is a team game, especially when he talks about the Red Bulls defense, the onus is on him to make something happen, whether he likes it or not.
The Red Bulls aren't paying him $5.6 million a year not to be an impact player, especially with so much on the line.
With apologies to Reggie Jackson, Henry is the man who stirs the Red Bulls' drink.
It's time to do some stirring, even if it is for only a second or two.