The ‘biggest regular-season game in MLS history’ just lost a little—make that a lot—of luster, as Red Bull New York announced today that striker Thierry Henry will not play in Los Angeles on Friday due to an MCL sprain in his right knee suffered on Sept. 4 at Real Salt Lake.
The game, which might have featured a record five designated players (Beckham, Donovan, Rafael Marquez, Juan Pablo Angel, and Henry), is being rightly billed as a blockbuster between two MLS Cup contenders from the league’s biggest markets.
There are sub-plots galore: New York vs LA, Marquez (Mexico) vs Donovan (U.S.), Beckham vs Henry (former Premier League foes), and it’s on national television in (West Coast) prime time.
And most important, both teams are in the race for the Supporters’ Shield (best record) and the playoff home-field advantage that confers.
The Red Bulls’ announcement takes some of the shine out of the matchup, but the club for being cautious with its star, not wanting to lose him for the postseason. Here is GM Erik Soler:
“We spoke to Thierry on Monday and we decided that it was the best course of action for his health and for our club to rest him this week. Despite the attention surrounding this Friday’s match, we did not want to exacerbate Thierry’s current injury that he has been playing and practicing with over the past two weeks. We want to ensure that he is healthy for our final matches as we hope to qualify for the playoffs and make a run towards the MLS Cup.”
Understandable, and no doubt the right move for RBNY.
But still … damn.