HARRISON, N.J. (AP) — Five goals in two games haven’t made Thierry Henry particularly happy. The French international would rather get 90 good minutes from the New York Red Bulls, and that hasn’t happened this season.
Henry scored his first career MLS hat trick and set up goal as the Red Bulls overcame a poor first half to beat the expansion Montreal Impact 5-2 on Saturday.
Henry refused to say much about his personal scoring binge that has led New York to two straight wins at home after losing their opening two games on the road.
“I care about what we did in the first half and how bad we played,” Henry said. “That’s all I care about.’
Henry said the Red Bulls were upset at the half despite leaving the field tied at 2-2.
“If you are going to compete, you have to play well for 90 minutes,” said Henry, who had 14 goals in 26 games last season. “I know sometimes, every now and then, it’s not always easy and you can’t do it. I know you guys understand it was 5-2, but I am a competitor and I always think about what wasn’t good in the game and the first half wasn’t good at all.”
Dax McCarty, who stole a pass to set up Henry’s game winner that snapped a 2-all tie early in the second half, was more willing to discuss Henry’s scoring.
“He’s an animal,” McCarty said. “He’s literally as close to unstoppable as it comes in this league, especially the way he is playing now. When you see how motivated he is, especially now that he realizes how difficult this league is. I think he has taken it to another level. He gets better every game. With the exception of the first half, we are going to be very difficult if he keeps playing like this. It seems like every time he shoots the ball, it goes in.”
Kenny Cooper and Mehdi Ballouchy also scored for the Red Bulls, who have scored nine goals since returning home, with Henry getting five and two assists.
Sanna Nyassi and Justin Mapp scored for winless Montreal (0-3-1). The Impact, who had one goal in their first three games, had leads of 1-0 and 2-1 before the Red Bulls’ French international took over.
“I thought we played some good soccer,” Mapp said. “It showed what we can do, but we’re in this business for results and it’s 90 minutes and we weren’t good throughout 90 minutes.”
The Red Bulls’ win did not come without a cost. Midfielder Rafa Marquez suffered a groin injury and didn’t play in the second half.
Henry scored in the 28th, 56th and 89th minutes with the middle goal snapping a 2-all tie. McCarty intercepted a pass by Zarek Valentin and found Henry at the top of the box for a shot that beat goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts just inside the goalpost.
Henry helped extend the lead to 4-2 in the 72nd minute with a flick pass that set up Ballouchy’s goal. He capped got his third goal of the match on a rebound.
The Red Bulls twice rallied from one-goal deficits to tie the game, the second time after referee Michael Kennedy awarded a questionable penalty kick in injury time.
McCarty dribbled the ball into the box and was tackled from behind by Matteo Ferreri. The defender seemed to get the ball but Kennedy ruled that he also got McCarty’s leg. Cooper converted the penalty for his fourth goal of the season.
McCarty said it was a 50-50 call, and an argument could have been made for no penalty kick.
Mapp had given Montreal a 2-1 lead in the 38th minute. He took a pass from Felipe Martins on the left wing, cut across the middle of the penalty area and beat rookie goalkeeper Ryan Meara inside the left goalpost.
Henry tied the game at 1-all by heading a pass from Marquez off the hands of Ricketts into the net.
Nyassi got a gift from the Red Bulls in scoring the second goal for the Impact in their MLS history. Dane Richards played the ball back to Markus Holgersson on the edge of New York box. The defender could not handle the touch pass and Nyassi pounced on the loose ball and easily beat a defenseless Meara, who finished with four saves.
Montreal midfielder Davy Arnaud said the team played well in the first half.
“To get two goals and be up twice was obviously a good start for us,” he said. “But we didn’t respond well in the second half. We got a little rattled with the PK at the end of the half and our response was definitely not good enough in the second half. They’re a good team and we got punished for it.”
Impact coach Jesse Marsch said his team gave the Red Bulls too much space in the final 45 minutes and Henry took advantage of it.
“He killed us,” Marsch. “Every time he touched the ball he killed us. We talked about it. So, he played well.”
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