BY DAVE MARTINEZ
New York earned a hard-fought three points on Saturday despite a plethora of injuries, but the result came at a hefty price.
A strong effort from a patchwork defense, and a standout performance from rookie goalkeeper Ryan Meara helped Meara earn his first career shutout, but the joy derived from a hard-fought 1-0 victory over New England was tempered by the loss of Thierry Henry to a hamstring injury that could sideline him for several weeks.
“It’s a quite big hamstring, a huge one,” Coach Hans Backe said after the game. “Normally you would say three to four weeks (of recovery).”
Henry still made an impact in the match despite the early injury, scoring a beautiful goal for his ninth score of the season, but it wound up being his final contribution of the day.
Henry picked up the injury in the first half on an offensive break. Mehdi Ballouchy carried the ball into the Revolution’s half, with Henry looking to expose the middle of the pitch.
“I think he tried a sprint to get behind and he stopped quick,” Backe observed.
When Ballouchy's pass did not come, Henry pulled up, aggravating his hamstring and immediately falling to the floor clutching his leg. He would need assistance to be removed from the pitch.
Before being taken off, he scored the team’s lone goal in the 7th minute. Running at the towering Stephen McCarthy, Henry chipped the unsuspecting defender and Revs goalkeeper Matt Reis for the team’s opening score. The goal put Henry back at the top of Major League Soccer’s goal scoring leader list.
Henry's goal was the lone highlight of a first half that was controlled by the Red Bulls. New England collected themselves in the second half, pressuring the Red Bulls’ inexperienced backline with some creative play of their own. Saer Sene led the way for the Revolution, but was unable to convert in the face of a solid performance by Meara and his patchwork defensive line. Markus Holgersson enjoyed a stellar game, anchoring the backline and wearing the captain’s armband in Henry’s absence. It was a far cry from his recent forgettable performances.
New York withstood New England's second-half pressure, with Meara making some clutch late saves to preserve the shutout and earn Man of the Match honors.
Despite the gutsy victory, Henry's injury was the big story of the match. The injury means Henry will join a laundry list of starters set to miss next week's visit to the LA Galaxy. Henry joins suspended midfielder Rafa Marquez and injured starters Wilman Conde, Jan Gunnar Solli, Roy Miller and Teemu Tainio, as well as injured reserves Juan Agudelo and Stephen Keel.