For the third consecutive month, Red Bulls designated player Thierry Henry topped the MLS Castrol rankings, clocking in with a 9.33 rating.
FC Dallas defender George John came in second with a rating of 9.27, while Real Salt Lake defender Nat Borchers (9.22), Los Angeles midfielder Landon Donovan (9.18), and LA defender Omar Gonzalez (9.13) rounded out the top five.
Henry scored his league-leading ninth goal of the season in New York’s 5-0 rout of Toronto on Wednesday night (a game not included in this edition of the Index), and he also has four assists in 2011.
He is certainly delivering the goods, and not only in the offensive-firepower department. Henry frequently drops deep into midfield to collect the ball, boosting New York’s possession game, and sometimes, singlehandedly re-setting the team when it has lost its grip on a game.
But the most remarkable thing about his performances is that he looks like he’s on cruise-control much of the time. We took some pals to Red Bull Arena for Wednesday’s game and two of them made the same observation about Henry, namely, that “his work rate is none too high,” and that “he looks like late-career Shaquille O’Neal,” picking his spots, not wasting energy.
Part of it is Henry’s smooth, gliding style that makes much of what he does look effortless, but another part is that he really does seem to be going less than 100% at times. Watching him, you occasionally wonder how much damage he could do if he kicked it into high gear.
And yet he never fails to produce several lethally effective moments per game, which is more than most—okay, every—other player in the league can say.
In addition to his goal on Wednesday, he sprung Dane Richards on the wing to set up Joel Lindpere’s goal, and, earlier, after some great work on the left side of the box, he put the ball on a silver platter for Richards about 14 yards from goal. The Jamaican missed the target, much to the crowd’s (and Henry’s) disappointment, but the pass—and goal-scoring opportunity it created—could not have been better.
With nine goals at roughly the halfway mark, Henry has a chance to match Juan Pablo Angel’s franchise record of 19 goals in an MLS season. And if he can tap that 20% of his game that appears to be going unused at the moment … watch out.