On the eve of New York’s regular-season finale, a home game against the New England Revolution that presents the Red Bulls a chance to clinch the Eastern Conference title, the club announced that prized DP signing Thierry Henry will miss the match with a strained right knee.
It’s the third game the French superstar has missed in the past five weeks, and it makes you wonder if his MLS sojourn is becoming … um, Beckhamesque.
Will he be ready for the playoffs? Is that why coach Hans Backe is resting him now? Or does he have a more serious injury and the club is biding its time before revealing the extent of what they keep calling a “knock”?
Time will tell, but New York could certainly use him tomorrow night, when they face a New England team they have not beaten in five years. The Revs won this year’s first meeting, 3-2, and are 8-0-6 against New York in the past 14 meetings between the East Coast rivals.
They’re also in gleeful-spoiler mode right now, having knocked Kansas City out of the playoffs last week with a 1-0 win at Gillette Stadium.
The Red Bulls should be keenly aware that they face a dangerous team on Thursday, and motivation should not be a problem: In addition to winning the conference title and home field advantage for the playoffs, New York can tie the MLS record for greatest single-season improvement.
If they beat New England they’ll be ten wins better than last year’s Red Bulls, thereby equaling the league record held by … the 1999–2000 New York franchise (then known as the MetroStars).
It’s also fan-appreciation night at Red Bull Arena, and no team wants to go into the postseason on a two-game losing streak (New York dropped its last game, to expansion Philadelphia).
Yes, there is much to play for tomorrow night.
Too bad the club’s biggest player won’t be a part of it.