Hartnett: Red Bulls’ Thierry Henry Is Trailblazing Soccer In NY’s Backyard

‘Red Bulls’ Report’
By Sean Hartnett
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There is a superstar captivating fans inside the New York metropolitan sports landscape. But you would be searching in vain trying to find him at the usual haunts of Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden, Citi Field or the Meadowlands.

His face is more recognizable worldwide than Derek Jeter and claims a following that the Yankee captain could never possibly garner.  He is revered by the cities of London and Barcelona and idolized universally in his home nation of France.

Legendary French football icon Thierry Henry is playing right here in New York’s backyard.  His stage, Red Bull Arena, is a jewel that many top-level European clubs would love to call their own.  The state of the art complex is an impressive sight to first-time fans as it both aesthetically pleasing and features a fresh, modern design.  When entering the arena, you are immediately overcome by the aura of a major European ground and are welcomed by the raucous atmosphere generated by Red Bull supporters.

Holding a capacity of just over 25,000, Red Bull Arena seats half that of Yankee Stadium but those gathered inside are feverishly passionate throughout the entire 90 minutes of play.  I’ve stood in the supporters sections and the chants directed at the opposition would make even the most boorish ‘Bleacher Creature’ blush.  The ambiance generated at Red Bull Arena is colorful, carnivalistic and unlike anything another New York area stadium can boast.

It is in this setting that Henry is entertaining the masses as he’s done throughout his glittering career.  He hasn’t looked back since bursting upon the scene during the 1998 World Cup where his three goals helped France to their first ever World Cup title.  Enjoying instant success at Arsenal, he became the goal scorer of his generation and the club’s all-time record holder with 226 goals in 369 appearances.  Along with winning Euro 2000 with France, Henry claimed numerous trophies with Arsenal both individually and for the club.  He was a key member of their 2003/04 team dubbed ‘The Invincibles’ that went undefeated for the entire Premier League season, a feat only previously managed 115 years earlier.

His 2007 move to Barcelona saw him earn further plaudits and league titles.  It was with the Catalan giants where he first attained club football’s ultimate prize by winning the UEFA Champions League in 2009.  Between his accomplishments for France, Arsenal and Barcelona, Henry had little left to prove in his career.  A fresh challenge beckoned the Frenchman across the Atlantic, toward the great city of New York.

The target now in Henry’s sights is earning the admiration of New Yorkers and launching soccer into the forefront of the Big Apple sports scene along with growing the game in America.  Some will point out that the star power of David Beckham didn’t do the trick but Henry brings a much different package of attributes to the table.

Unlike the ‘Beckham experiment’ in Los Angeles, Henry is fully committed to the Red Bulls and doesn’t entertain thoughts of prolonging his national team career or going back on loan to Europe.  Another reason why Beckham didn’t take off in America is that outside of his stunning free kicks, he is a slow, uncreative footballer.  Henry is much nearer to his prime than Becks and hasn’t lost much of the electric pace of his youth.  His game is based around deception, taking on defenders and unpredictable moments that leave fans breathless.

After a season adjusting to the MLS, Henry has caught fire in his sophomore year in the States.  He’s rediscovered his scoring touch, netting in five of his past six games and currently leads the league with 8 goals.  In his latest appearance for the Red Bulls, Henry sparked a late comeback from a two-goal deficit late in the second half.

The Red Bulls were shorthanded without the services of Rafael Marquez, Dane Richards, Juan Agudelo and Tim Ream away on international duty at the Gold Cup.  With strike partner Luke Rodgers injured and the Red Bulls’ back four leaking in goals, Henry pulled the Red Bulls within a goal by weaving through the Portland Timbers’ defense and finishing coolly.  A bizarre refereeing decision led to Henry’s dismissal but his inspiration charged up his teammates who clawed back an equalizer just before the final whistle.

Like Beckham, Henry is an ambassador for the sport though his popularity isn’t based upon underwear modeling but instead through goodwill like Pelé.  After an on-camera incident where Spanish manager Luis Aragonés referred to Henry using a racial slur, it spurred him to form the ‘Stand Up, Speak Up’ campaign to combat racism in soccer.  It earned him a listing in Time Magazine’s list of 100 ‘Heroes and Pioneers.’  Throughout his career, Henry has also supported the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and AIDS research.

If Henry isn’t already one of your idols, he should be now.   A trailblazer in sport and society, he has one goal on his mind and that’s to raise the profile of soccer in New York and America.  “For me, there wasn’t any other option.  I wanted to play for the Red Bulls and I wanted to represent New York.  It was like a no-brainer for me,” he told reporters in Portland this weekend.

Has Thierry Henry changed your perception on soccer in America?  Will his presence help the MLS make the breakthrough in American society?  Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to @HartyLFC.

  • ilikebeet

    good read, look forward for more

  • Joe

    Great read, go metro!

  • Haig

    Great feature on Thierry Henry and his role for NYRB. He sees the game at a different level than most players in the world. It’s a thrill to have him representing our local soccer team and reading about it here.

  • David Kilpatrick

    Titi’s the biggest sports star in the Big Apple, playing the global game in the world’s capital. High time, indeed, for such coverage.

  • Lenny

    Thanks for FINALLY giving some overdue coverage of the Red Bulls. There’s no other sports experience in the NY metro area like seeing a match at Red Bull Arena. I hope this means more RBNY coverage on-air as well. Come on you Red Bulls!

  • Ainslie

    Great article! It truly is a gift to be able to see Henry work his magic!

  • Andrew

    Great intro to NYRB. Let’s keep the team in the minds of everyone in the area.

  • julio lopes

    Excellent! This article tells it as it is. Looking forward to the open cup games. Just got my tickets.

  • Rob

    As a season ticket holder, I’m loving the coverage.
    As a soccer fan, I’m loving the coverage.
    As someone who wouldn’t have been floating around the site otherwise, I’ll be back for the well written and thought out commentary.

    Please keep up the good work!

  • Terence

    A strong article about Henry. As everyone said, it’s nice to see the Red Bulls getting more attention

  • sec123

    Great to see CBS and the Fan taking an interest in the Redbulls and the MLS. Maybe some radio play isnt that far off. Looking forward to hearing Bommer and Carton break down a Saturday night game.

  • Anthony

    Fantastic article. Looking forward to more.

  • John Flushing

    Keep up the good work.

  • Graham

    Great to see this article. Am forwarding to friends. Henry’s arrival was a significant one for soccer fans in New York who may have not checked out the Red Bulls before then. Those who made it out to the stadium found one of the best spectator atmosperes in the city and a good team emerging. Hope this is the first of many articles.

  • Nick

    Great article. I’m glad to see CBS finally taking some interest in soccer. Forza Red Bull!

  • Claude

    Great article! I’m looking forward to more.

  • russ

    excellent article, nice to see MLS and the red bulls in particular getting some mainstream media coverage!

  • hackmeister

    Nice article & thanks for the soccer coverage. Please continue to report on the Red Bulls.

  • nyrmetros

    c’mon. wfan…. get stuck in!

  • SunnysideFC

    Great to see the Bulls get some coverage here, I’m a big local supporter. Let’s see some more please.

  • simonredbull

    Grate Read i love RBA i will say this even if RBA has 25K or 2 K it still a fun place to go to i have frinds that are not Soccer fans and i tlod them they have to come to a game so they did and they ware like this is RBA its so nice that they came back. 1 more thing that is Grate about it is how close you are to the trains. thank you CBS and the fan for doing this.

  • Jeremy

    Nice article. Red bull arena is really nice, much better than watching a game at giants stadium.

  • Ben

    Great to see CBS and WFAN covering soccer in the area. Keep it up.

  • Mike

    Good read. More Soccer and Red Bulls coverage please!

  • Evans

    You kinda ruined it by mentioning Beckham… but I guess you felt like you had to since non-soccer fans may read this article too. Nevertheless, great article. Keep up the good work!

  • Jcr

    Good article. Encouraged to see you finally covering MLS

  • afrim

    great read

  • Blaize

    I like this article. I would also desire to see more

  • Pepe

    Very nice.,thanks for the article,.,it;s about time that THE FAN along with CBS get their feet wet with a bit of Soccer

  • nathan

    Went out to TH’s first game last summer v Spurs and it was terrific as is the RB arena. I have to say the traffic/parking situation was an absolute horror show tho. I hope they’ve improved it. Sure would love to hear some footy talk on the FAN now and then. How about a Saturday morning show or something similar?

  • Bart

    good article, hope to read more from you

  • Alex

    Could not have said it better!!! Great article and finally some coverage on the “FAN”. Keep up the good work and will be looking forward to mroe articles. Gives me a reason to visit.

  • Michael Mejido

    Great article Sean! Keep up the good work

  • Matt

    Nice job Sean. Great to see some coverage for our hometown team – finally!

  • Jake

    Great read Sean thanks.

    Anyone reading who has never been to Red Bull Arena, you NEED to check it out. It’s the best live sporting experience going in NYC right now.

  • Tim Plummer

    Great to see the New York Red Bulls getting some space on the CBS/FAN blogs. A great read, Sean.

  • zensum

    PS – WCBS gives Red Bull scores, can’t you get WFAN to do the same?

    And maybe a guest or two?

  • zensum

    And with his “attitude” on the field red card or not he’s a natural for the NY/NJ/Conn metro market.

    Great article Sean keep up the good work!

  • hartylfc

    Thanks for your kind words and supporting RBNY coverage on WFAN.com/CBS New York. – Sean Hartnett

  • al

    Well done and welcome aboard to The Game! Much props to WFAN for finally seeing the light!

  • James

    Thank you for the coverage, we could definitely use some more of it!

  • Artimus

    Good read.. I would like to see more coverage of the Red Bulls and MLS.

  • Jay Walk

    Sounds like you had an awesome time in the South Ward. Hope to read more articles about RBNY from you.

  • The Dude

    Thanks for the coverage. Can we get more Red Bulls coverage on the local news.. Or at least mentioning the score?

  • Greg

    Henry is an unbelievable player. Seeing him live every week is a priveledge.

  • Martin

    Great article, thank you…….

  • Tom Billingsly

    Appreciate the support Sean, keep up the good work.

  • Christian

    Fantastic article, Sean! We Red Bull fans appreciate the support and the coverage. Keep up the great work.

  • hartylfc

    That’s the hope… please spread the word. Thanks Maurice! – Sean Hartnett

  • maurice

    Good article, maybe now CBS Nyc sports could include the Red bulls under its sports column?

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