Thierry Henry (pictured) was happy to beat England's Arsenal in a friendly, but is looking forward to MLS play with the New York Red Bulls. (Photo: Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images)
HARRISON, New Jersey -- With a key Major League Soccer game at Real Salt Lake on Wednesday, New York Red Bulls captain Thierry Henry admitted he couldn't get too excited about playing a friendly against his former team, Arsenal, on Saturday.
New York won 1-0 before a crowd of 25,219 at a sold-out Red Bull Arena and the former France international played a role in the lone goal, delivering a corner kick that Ibrahim Sekagya headed for Bradley Wright-Phillips to finish.
“It was great,” Henry said in reference to playing the Gunners. “I think the fans obviously enjoyed it. Like I said before, it wasn’t the most important thing to win the game, but -- at the end of the day -- we won it. Like I said, now our focus is on [Real] Salt Lake. The distraction is out of the way now and let’s us concentrate on Salt Lake because it will be a different type of game.”
In fact, with so many important games on the horizon over the coming weeks, including the start of the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL), the Red Bulls have to concentrate on the matches that mean something.
Head coach Mike Petke, in a sense, viewed the outing against Arsenal as preparation for Salt Lake.
“If you look at it, we’re at home at Red Bull Arena and it was almost an away match today, a lot of Arsenal supporters,” Petke commented about the large number of Arsenal fans in attendance Saturday. “So we wanted to play this game a bit like we’re going to approach [Real] Salt Lake on the road, which is a good shape, sitting in and look to counter a little bit, and when it opens up hopefully we have some good possession and I think that’s a good thing to see today leading into Salt Lake.”
The Red Bulls have recorded four draws over their last seven MLS matches, winning just once in that timeframe since May 27.
“There’s something askew, I guess you could say, compared to last year,” Petke expressed. “Last year, we were a good, solid team that shut teams down when we were up, that worked until the very end and it’s a little bit different this year. We’re going to try and pinpoint it.”
New York will kick off its CCL campaign at home against El Salvador’s FAS on August 26.