By RYAN TOLMICH
HARRISON, N.J. — Soccer may be a young man’s game, but New York Red Bulls star Thierry Henry demonstrated that there’s still some spectacular skill remaining in his 36-year-old legs.
Henry led the way with a goal to go with a trio of assists Saturday as the Red Bulls took down the visiting Columbus Crew by a 4-1 scoreline at Red Bull Arena.
The Red Bulls opened the scoring in the 17th minute by way of Major League Soccer leading goalscorer Bradley Wright-Phillips, whose 15th of the season gave the hosts the initial 1-0 lead.
The goalscoring sequence was initiated by Henry, who played a give-and-go with Eric Alexander on his way through the Crew box. The Frenchman then tapped a cross towards the center of the box and into the path of Wright-Phillips, who has now scored six in as many games.
“You see today the assist he put on a plate for me,” Wright-Phillips said of Henry’s passing. “He did it for two other plays today. It makes it so much easier playing with a guy of that class.”
After taking the lead, the Red Bulls faced wave after wave of Crew attacks, but the hosts were able to withstand pressure until the 39th minute, when substitute Adam Bedell tied things up with his first career MLS goal. Bedell, who entered the game in the 25th minute to replace an injured Jairo Arrieta, fired a shot past Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles from just outside the box to tie things at one.
“It was really good,” Bedell said. “IT was kind of a surprise getting in with Jairo going down, but you got to be ready. I showed that I was.”
“I think it’s great that he got off the mark and he got a goal,” said Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter. “He’s a good finisher. We need to keep creating opportunities for him because he can finish.”
The deadlock remained for just six minutes, as Henry restored the Red Bull lead just before the referee’s halftime whistle. This time, it was Wright-Phillips who played instigator, as the Red Bulls forward fired off two shots that were spectacularly saved and blocked away. The ball fell into the path of Henry at the top of the box and the 36-year-old calmly placed the ball into the right side of the net. After the finish, Henry appeared visibly frustrated, going so far as to scold his back line for the goal conceded just a few minutes prior.
“I couldn’t tell you word for word,” Robles said when asked about Henry’s halftime message to the team. “It’s just not good enough… It just got to a point where he couldn’t take it and I’m glad. I’m glad that he lost it like that because they guys fed off of it and that’s why we were a lot more efficient in the second half.”
“We’ve been doing that all season: conceding goals like this,” Henry said. “Enough is enough. We managed to comeback today, and a lot of time in so many games this year we couldn’t… We cannot carry on giving goals away. We have to do better as a team, period.”
The former Arsenal star made drove his team to better play, making his mark just 11 minutes after reemerging from halftime by picking up another assist. Henry placed a through ball right onto the feet of a streaking Lloyd Sam, whose clinical curler pushed the lead to 3-1.
Henry picked up one more assist for good measure in stoppage time by finding a cutting Alexander down the left side. Alexander timed his run perfectly, beating the Crew trap to get in alone to push the lead to 4-1.
Meanwhile, Henry picked up his 37th career assist, which sees him become the franchise’s all-time leading assist getter. Despite obtaining the record, the much-decorated Henry chose to focus more on how the team needs to focus on improvement
“You should always take better criticism when you win,” Henry said. “Another day, before the (Philadelphia Union) game we maybe can talk about that, but my mind is not on right now.We won. That’s the most important thing.”
With the victory, the Red Bulls are now unbeaten in their last five MLS contests, having picked up 9 points throughout that stretch. Meanwhile, the Crew see their streak of four consecutive draws snapped with the loss.
Watch the match highlights below: