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April 15, 2012
Henry: 'It might be harsh .. . . but San Jose gave us a lesson in football'

Thierry Henry: "It might be harsh what Iím saying but San Jose gave us a lesson in football today."
Thierry Henry: "It might be harsh what Iím saying but San Jose gave us a lesson in football today."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
By Michael Lewis Editor

HARRISON, N.J. -- For someone who is quite fluent in French, Red Bulls captain Thierry Henry did not use the two words that described his thoughts after his team's come-from-ahead 2-2 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night: deja vu.

He felt the game had all of the building blocks of last season's 16 draws, sometimes agonizing home ties, which led to the club struggling just to reach the Major League Soccer playoffs.

"That game reminded me of a lot of games we played last year in home," Henry said.


Henry was far from finished. The former French international striker spoke of a second half in which the Red Bulls struggled to play their game. They seemed to be more content in keeping the ball in the air than on the ground, which is their strength. They also had trouble clearing and moving the ball out of their defensive third as many of their passes were intercepted or went right to San Jose players over the final 45 minutes.

"You have to give a lot of credit to San Jose," he added. "I donít think a lot of teams are going to come here and play like they did in the second half. We didnít touch the ball, simple as that. We said to each other before the game that weíre going to play football. I donít remember one time that we played football in the second half, kicking the ball right from the center backs and the goalkeepers. When you look at San Jose being away from home, passing the ball around through {Rafael] Baca, [Sam] Cronin and [Trevor] Dawkins. Every time it seems like Wondolowski had time on the ball to turn. We did the same to Columbus the other day but you have to stick to your plan."

Henry also could have used another well-known phrase: I told you so.

After practice on Thursday, Henry warned the media the team wasn't all that great in its 4-1 victory at the Columbus Crew last Saturday. He said if the team did not pick up its play, it would come back to bite them. He was correct.

"I called it, no?" he said. "I called it, thatís all I can say. I told you the other day if you let a team like San Jose haveopportunities, they will punish you, especially [Chris] Wondolowski. I said to you the other day, everyone was raving about our game. I told you on Thursday I wasnít so happy about it. If [Columbus] had Wondolowski, they could have tied it, even won it. But we won it and everyone was raving about, a bit too happy about it. Back to reality once again."

Last year, reality was too many home draws, which was the bane of the Red Bulls' existence, While the team has plenty of firepower with Kenny Cooper and Henry up front, it has to play an overall game on both sides of the pitch to earn its three points. Sometimes it means not playing the prettiest soccer in the world.

"Weíre not going to score there and four all the time, so youíve got to win sometime one-nil, ugly game even though youíre not on the ball or whatever," Henry said.

There was little doubt that the Red Bulls missed their Colombian central defender Wilman Conde, sidelined with a groin strain. But Henry would not use that as an excuse.

"No excuses, no excuses," he said. "Itís enough now. Conde wasnít playing, whatever. Every time we concede goals, sometimes the team doesnít even mark players. You have to give credit to San Jose, we didnít touch the ball in the second half. If any team deserved to win, it looked like San Jose was going to make it in the end. It might be harsh what Iím saying but San Jose gave us a lesson in football today."

Asked if he thought the team could play championship defense, Henry replied, "I do believe so. Again, when I said to you no excuses. For todayís game. But I do believe that when we have Conde in the squad, we do look way stronger. Again, Iím not having a go at anybody, but it is a squad and youíve got to perform when the boss is calling you. Having said that, we know we can score at any time. But we also know somehow we concede. Right now it looks like if you come and play here and you play us away, it looks like every time youíre going to have a chance. We need to correct that."

As he walked through the tunnel toward the Red Bulls locker room after the final whistle, Henry was heard with a rather quick profanity-laced tirade at someone. Whether it was the game officials or an Earthquakes player, it was not known,

Asked if he was peeved at the referee, Henry replied, "No. I do not like to not win. Thatís the way it is."

Hmmm. Who knows? If he addressed his teammates that way, Henry might get across his point in time for next Sunday's game at D.C. United.

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