New England Soccer Today

Stopping Henry the real task for Revs

The New England Revolution have had to fight through a difficult schedule to open up their season but have been competitive in most of their matches. And even though the Revs (2-4-0, 6 points) have just two wins to show for their efforts so far this season, the expectation is that they will be able to compete tomorrow against the New York Red Bulls (3-3-1, 10 points) too.

Nevertheless, the Red Bulls present a unique challenge to the Revolution. The Red Bulls are playing with Thierry Henry, arguably one of the greatest goal scorer that has ever lived. No other team in MLS has a striker of Henry’s caliber, save perhaps Robbie Keane’s Los Angeles Galaxy.

But while Keane and the star-studded Galaxy are off to a rocky start, which includes a head-turning 3-1 loss to the Revolution, Henry has put the Red Bulls on his back and is the reason why they currently sit third in the Eastern Conference. Henry has eight goals so far this season — tied for the league lead — though his contributions go beyond putting the ball in the back of the net.

Henry has been a leader on and off the field. He has a tendency to be brutally honest with Red Bulls teammates and fans and has used the skills that he has acquired while plying his trade for top clubs like Arsenal and Barcelona to elevate the Red Bulls’ quality of play.

The task of stopping Henry won’t be an easy one for the Revolution. Though New England have proven so far that they are able to go toe-to-toe with any team, whether or not they have the class to quell Henry remains to be seen.

The best way to stop Henry and the Red Bulls?

“We don’t want it to be an open game,” coach Jay Heaps, who is looking for his first in-conference win, told “We want it to be open when we want it to be open and pretty tight when we need it to be. Those are the challenges when good teams start playing well. They know how to open it up and close it as quickly as they do open it.”

The Revolution have excelled when they keep the ball moving in their favor, a tactic which earned them a win against Los Angeles a few weeks ago. And while the Red Bulls pack a potent offensive punch, their defense has been much less impressive, allowing 14 goals in seven games.

Attacking will have to effective and come in moderation. With Shalrie Joseph returning to the starting lineup after serving a one game suspension, the task of helping the Revolution move into attack-mode will fall on him. But Joseph will also need help swiftly bring the Revolution back to defending after an attack fails, to not allow the Red Bulls too much space.

“We want to be stronger defensively,” Heaps told “When we play an open game, we want it to be an attacking, open game, but we don’t want to expose ourselves. When we play well, we push the game, but at the same time we know that if we lose possession, we’re not exposing ourselves to open up that game.

Center backs McCarthy and AJ Soares will need cover Henry and his partner Kenny Cooper, who has seven goals this season. McCarthy knows what a threat New York can be offensively and also that the Revolution can’t afford to let the hosts control the game.

“Their two target guys are super dangerous, so we really have to be aware of where they are at all times,” McCarthy told “But on the other side of it I think we can definitely exploit the back because we have really good attackers, as well. It’s probably going to be an exciting game.”

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