HARRISON, N.J. (AP) — Thierry Henry gave the New York Red Bulls the boost they were looking for in their home opener.
Henry scored his first two goals of the Major League Soccer season and assisted on one of Kenny Cooper’s pair Sunday to lead the Red Bulls to their first win of the season, 4-1 over the Colorado Rapids.
“The way we went out there was great,” Henry said. “We scored early and put a lot of pressure on them. We did what we needed to do in getting the first goal.”
The 34-year-old, who had three goals in seven games during a winter loan to Arsenal, scored in the third and 54th minutes. He assisted on a sixth-minute goal by Cooper, who also got a goal in the 89th off a pass from Roy Miller.
New York (1-2), which drew 21,024, was coming off road losses at Dallas and Salt Lake.
“It’s safe to say that the players were a little shaken confidence-wise coming off those losses,” Red Bulls coach Hans Backe said. “But we got off to a flying start, scoring two goals in the first five minutes. All around, we looked very solid. This is the way we have to dig in and play with emotion every game. You could see in the warmups how focused we were. We lost the two games and were under pressure. We needed to perform. We have to be unbeatable here. That’s theory and not just talk.”
New York improved to 6-0-3 in its last nine home openers. Henry has five goals in four MLS games against Colorado.
Omar Cummings scored the Rapids’ goal in the 77th, preventing rookie Ryan Meara from getting his first shutout. Colorado (2-1) had started the season with wins over Columbus and Philadelphia.
“The back line was uneven and not on the same page,” said Rapids defender Marvell Wynne Jr., a former player with New York. “They made the most of their opportunities. We knew that they were going to come out hard, because it was their home opener and they came off two losses. We let them get off early and that was pretty much it.”
Henry scored his first goal when he ran onto a back pass from Ross LaBauex intended for goalkeeper Matt Pickens. Henry got the ball about 30 yards from goal and scored on a left-footed shot that trickled past the keeper.
Three minutes later, Henry lofted the ball from midfield toward Cooper, who settled and scored with a right-footed shot.
Meara, who grew up as a MetroStars and Red Bulls fan, saved with a diving punch in the 32nd minute and made another punching save in the 39th.
Henry made it 3-0 in the 54th when he controlled a long pass from defender Wilman Conde with a touch, and slid the ball past Pickens with the inside of his right foot. Henry then took a bow to the cheering fans in that end of the field following his 20th goal for the Red Bulls in all competitions.
Cummings scored his first of the season from 30 yards after Rafa Marquez lost possession in his first match since a three-game suspension for throwing a ball at Landon Donovan in last year’s playoff against Los Angeles.
Cooper then scored his third goal of the season.
“This is an incredibly talented group and I’m just glad to be a part of it,” said Cooper, acquired from Portland during the offseason. “It was great to be here and get a win in our home opener in such a great atmosphere. The fans had incredible passion and enthusiasm.”
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