So it turns out that amongst all of this “getting fucking paid” malarkey that Thierry Henry’s been getting up to in the Big Apple, he has to play the odd game off soccerball. And who more apt an opponent for his first game for the New York Red Bulls than Arsenal’s Norf Lahndan rivals Tottenham. The game has, naturally, been billed as Henry’s Red Bulls debut: it’s not, of course, seeing as how it’s not even a proper game, but you have to sell these ultimately meaningless games somehow. Who’d watch it otherwise; aside from the unemployed insomniac market, natch.
Spurs took the points (it’s a tournament, with a real trophy and everything, you see) in a match that was overshadowed by the mere presence of The Greatest Footballer of His or Anyone Else’s Generation™. They were poor really, and looked very much like a team in pre-season (probably because they are) and were fortunate to turn around a game in which Henry had given Red Bulls the advantage in the first half. Scrappy goals from Keane and Bale gave the game to Spurs, although they were gifted them by some woeful New York defending.
The first real chance of the game fell, somewhat inevitably, to Henry. Put it down to a lack of sharpness, or a season of bench-warming in Barcelona taking its toll, but he was foiled by Valentino Rossi wannabe Carlo Cudicini. It really was the kind of chance that the Frenchman used to score for fun back in his Premiership days. That miss was nothing compared to what followed some six minutes later, when winger Dane Richards made a good run down the right, crossed low, and presented Seth Stammler with an open goal about 5 yards out. Stammler got it all wrong, mis-controlling on his left foot and allowing Cudicini to recover.
Red Bulls took the lead through the lively Henry on 25 minutes. Estonian Joel Lindpere embarrassed supposed professional footballer Alan Hutton on the left, before putting in a low cross for Henry to put away first time inside the six yard box. It might not have been the Henry classic that some may have been hoping for, but the Gillette enthusiast will be chuffed to get off the mark for his new club against an old enemy.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Henry was hauled off at half time, leading me to question the already debatable worth of this article, but the second 45 wound up providing significantly more excitement than a first half that saw just four shots on goal. Stammler nearly made up for his first half shocker with a well struck left foot shot, after skinning Alan Hutton (see a pattern developing here?) some 25 yards out.
If Henry had looked lively in a point-to-prove sort of way, Robbie Keane was the polar opposite. Disinterested, constantly offside, one can’t help but think that Keane may have to roll out his stock press conference sometime soon; in which he declares that between chomping potatoes and tarmacing drives, his childhood was spent watching all the Trabzonspor games Dublin had to offer. Two early missed chances in second half preceded a simple goal that he really didn’t deserve, tapping in at the far post after a horrendous flap from Red Bulls’ second half keeper, Greg Sutton.
Macoumba Kandji really should have taken the lead for the Americans five minutes later, after some good work from Stammler on the left (who, turns out, looks like a handy player) but it was Spurs who took the initiative on 72 minutes. Jeremy Hall sold his goalkeeper criminally short from a header, and Gareth Bale (hilariously referred to by the American commentator as Christian Bale following the goal) nipped in ahead of Sutton to score, getting clattered by the Canadian keeper in the process.
A couple of Red Bulls chances followed, being denied by the crossbar late on, but an unconvincing Spurs held on for the victory. The Fox Soccer Channel cameras zoom in on Henry chatting to ‘Arry Fackin’ Redknapp at the end, declaring him man of the match. It’s a fair shout, although there was little competition. If I thought that football was so simplistic a game that a player’s performance could be evaluated through a numerical value, I’d give him an 8/10. If this causes massive controversy amongst our literally 1s of readers, however, rest assured that Radetto never wished for this information to be published anyway, and currently have our crack team of lawyers (sorry, The Fiver) working round the clock for it to be taken down. It’ll be a good few days, mind.