Henry scores in 1st game for New York Red Bulls, gaining 1-1 exhibition tie against Tottenham

By Ronald Blum, AP
Thursday, July 22, 2010

Henry scores in 1st game for New York Red Bulls

HARRISON, N.J. — Thierry Henry got off to a fast start with the New York Red Bulls, scoring midway through the first half for a 2-1 exhibition loss over old rival Tottenham on Thursday night.

A former Arsenal star who left Barcelona to sign with Major League Soccer last week, Henry cut in front of Verdan Corluka at the 6-yard box in the 24th minute and put New York ahead when he slotted in a cross from Estonian national team regular Joel Lindpere past goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini.

Before crossing, Lindpere played the ball through the legs of defender Alan Hutton, familiar to American fans for his confrontation last season with U.S. forward Jozy Altidore.

Robbie Keane tied the score in the 62nd minute, tapping the ball into an open net after Andros Townsend’s corner kick was misjudged by goalkeeper Greg Sutton, who replaced starter Bouna Coundoul at the start of the second half.

Sutton also was at fault in the 72nd minute. Jeremy Hall headed a backpass under pressure from Gareth Bale, who was credited with the goal as the one-hopper went past the dismayed goalkeeper.

Henry, a 32-year-old French forward, is the highest-profile player to join MLS since David Beckham signed with the Los Angeles Galaxy three years ago. A former World Cup and European champion with France, and a Champions League winner with Barcelona, he lost his place in the Spanish power’s starting lineup last season and decided to move to New York, where he long wanted to live.

Playing his first match since France was eliminated from the World Cup with a loss to South Africa on June 22, he was given a long ovation when introduced.

Henry showed the quick pace and scoring instincts that made him a star since he first became a regular with Monaco in the mid-1990s. He played the first half, and had some deft, quick exchanges with Lindpere. He had a freeing backheel pass and a bicycle kick that went wide.

Just as important for the Red Bulls, he helped draw a crowd of 20,312 — about 5,000 short of a sellout, to Red Bull Arena, the $200 million stadium that opened in March.

MLS spokesman Dan Courtmanche said Adidas is projected to sell 50,000 Henry Red Bulls jerseys this year, second in MLS history behind the slightly more than 300,000 David Beckham Los Angeles Galaxy jerseys sold when he arrived in 2007.

In Spurs, Henry was facing an old foe. He starred for Arsenal from 1999-07 and said last week he is reluctant to even speak the name of Tottenham, the Gunners’ north London rival.

He’ll have to wait to pair with Juan Pablo Angel, the Red Bulls’ top player before Henry’s arrival. The forward missed the match because of a sprained ankle.

Manchester City plays Sporting Lisbon on Friday night in the second match of the four-team tournament, which ends Sunday when Spurs meet Sporting and the Red Bulls play City.

Spurs host Manchester City in their Premier League opener on Aug. 14, then start their Champions League qualifying playoff three or four days later.

About 10 Spurs players were missing following World Cup duty, including forward Peter Crouch and regular goalkeeper Heurelo Gomes. Cudicini returned during the preseason after injuries sustained in a motorcycle crash while en route to training in November.

Notes: While on loan for Sunderland last April and playing against Hull, Hutton threw the ball at Altidore, who responded with a head butt that earned him a red card and a season-ending suspension. … In a sign of the influence of the World Cup in South Africa, K’naan’s “Waving Flag” was played before the game.

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