July 24, 2014
LOOKING PAST ARSENAL
Henry might be playing against his former team, but he's more interested in 3 points vs. RSL
By Kristian R. Dyer
|Thierry Henry is worrying much more about the RSL match than the game against his old team, Arsenal.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
BigAppleSoccer.com Contributing Editor
HARRISON, N.J. – Saturday afternoon against English Premier League club Arsenal might mean more for the Champions League side than it likely will for their Red Bulls opponent. It is clear that the match means very little to the hosting Major League Soccer side, especially with an important league match against Real Salt Lake Wednesday night.
The match, of course, has some merit. The young players on the squad will get a chance to play as head coach Mike Petke will surely make a substitution before the 80th minute for this one, right? And there's left back Roy Miller, who suffered a groin injury while with Costa Rica in the World Cup as he can use the friendly to regain fitness.
Then there's the season ticket holders, many of whom shrewdly sold their tickets at a significant profit to the many Arsenal fans in the area, most of whom have never been to England and who think that Dennis Bergkamp played in the NBA in the 1980s. So there's that.
Other than that and the aside that this is a fancy tribute match for Thierry Henry, the Red Bulls team captain who enjoyed a star-studded time with Arsenal earlier in his career, there's nothing to see here. This match means nothing for the Red Bulls, a team that needs to start getting some wins in league play immediately. And their outlook on this match, despite a Thursday press conference and the glamour-billing, means nothing.
Even team captain and the former Arsenal man Henry agreed with that sentiment.
“It's a friendly game so it's different. My mind is on Salt Lake to be honest,” Henry said. “I know there is a game on Saturday, it will be nice and everything but all I know is that on Saturday we're not going to get three points.”
In fourth place in the Eastern Conference, just four points above the eighth place Chicago Fire, the Red Bulls are mired in a season of mediocrity. They have nine ties, second most in the conference. What they need is three points. They don't need this distraction.
So while the last thing they need is a friendly cash grab against a young, unproven Arsenal side without most of their starters, they will try to make the most of it.
“Listen, this is a big game for the club, for the league and people looking at this," Petke said. "So at the end of the day, I'm looking to get young guys in. But we're looking to use this as a springboard into the Salt Lake game. Having said that, let's see how the game goes and opens up.”