September 27, 2012
BEWARE, THE CELLAR DWELLERS
Henry: Toronto comes in with nothing to lose
By Michael Lewis
|Thierry Henry on Toronto: "If we give them the space and time to play well in the beginning, they are going to punish us, like all the teams punish team every time we give them space."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. -- Thierry Henry hopes his Red Bulls teammates learned a lesson or two from their 1-1 tie with the lowly New England Revolution last Saturday.
The lesson is that even a team out of the Major League Soccer playoff picture can be quite dangerous.
The Red Bulls will have an opportunity to bounce back from that draw, in which they allowed the equalizing goal deep into stoppage time after they scored in added time, against Toronto FC at Red Bull Arena on Saturday at 7 p.m. A win would certainly enhance New York's playoff chances against the Eastern Conference cellar dwellers.
Henry watched Toronto produce a 3-0 away win at Aguila (El Salvador) in the CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday night and was quite impressed.
"They played well. They're going to come here with nothing to lose because they are out of everything in the league," he said. "So why not? Some guys might be looking for some new teams and play better. Because when you look at the lineup of New England, they were playing without a lot of starters, yet we didn't look like we were going to win the game.
"Having said that, at the end we should have, but we didn't. Now, when you think about it, was it a worth draw? I think it was, considering New England didn't deserve to score. But they we have to try to keep our head up . . . I don't know why we start the game well, but it is clearly a problem."
Toronto likes to play direct, but kept the ball on the ground against Aguila.
"They are going to make it difficult," he said. "They are very direct, although I saw them playing in the CONCACAF game they were not long, they were playing the ball on the ground and passing the ball on the ground. It's down to us. But if we give them the space and time to play well in the beginning, they are going to punish us, like all the teams punish team every time we give them space."
Henry lamented the fact the Red Bulls haven't been able to deploy their Starting XI on a regular basis, especially this deep in season, with the playoffs just a month away.
"It seems like we still don't have our starting 11," he said. "If we do get into the playoffs or the final the way it is right now, like the way the teams are fighting at the end of the season, I think we're the only team who still doesn't know what's going to be the lineup at the beginning of the game. That doesn't help, but that's the way it is. That's not an excuse. It is a fact. It is difficult to have any partnership with anybody. It's quite important to go into the playoffs with at least an idea with the team we are going to play, if we are going there."
Asked to rate how vital the Toronto game was, Henry said it was must-win.
"Unfortunately, every game since I have been here has been a must-win game," he said. "Nothing has changed. You can play against a team in my neighborhood and it would be the same right now. We have to win. We had to win against Columbus. I'm not going to name the teams we've had to play against recently. Since I've have been here, we have never said, 'Ah, we are 14 points ahead, maybe we can let that one go.' We all know you never let any games game. But every time you play in this league, every game you play in this league, especially in the east are vital games."