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RBNY Fan Take: Time for Thierry Henry, Red Bulls Fans to Make Up
New York Red Bulls captain Thierry Henry looked rough. He'd just finished playing 90+ minutes in monsoon conditions in front of a home crowd that practically booed him off the pitch after numerous should-have-scored opportunities, only to win back the fans with a dramatic goal in the waning moments of the match. Now, after speaking with reporters, the fatigued Henry gingerly walked past me en route to calling it a night. I asked Henry how it felt to end the scoring drought that made him a villain in the eyes of many New York supporters. "Great," he answered, all the while displaying his trademark stoic face, as if he realized one goal isn't enough for the team's fans.
It isn't. But it's a start.
Saturday evening was the best and worst of the relationship involving Thierry Henry and New York soccer supporters. Henry started the chain of events that resulted in the second goal of the match with a beautiful steal and picture-perfect pass to Luke Rodgers, who buried the opportunity to give New York a 2-0 lead. Things only got worse for the captain from there, however, as he misfired on several seemingly easy chances during the second half.
The boos began immediately after Henry's first miscue. They only got louder with every missed scoring chance, especially from the Supporters Section located directly behind the net that Henry just couldn't hit. "I am a section 133 season ticket holder, and believe me, Henry got a well deserved booing from all of us," a fan remarked. "He had plenty of chances to put one away the last few games and it looked like he was just rusty and couldn't finish the job. I think he needs a little push from us to get back into the swing of things."
Henry's header in the 87th minute that put San Jose away should have been a unifying moment for player and fan base. Instead, Henry made his way toward the aforementioned section 133, gesturing and yelling something that TV cameras did not pick up. YouTube user Viper502 (from The Viper's Nest blog) interviewed New York fans after the match. One fan stated the Henry used a term similar to "britches" when yelling at the former hecklers after his goal (skip ahead to 8:45 minute in this video, but beware that the video is NSFW).
The irony regarding Saturday night's incidents is that, despite all of the missed opportunities, Henry was the best overall player on the pitch throughout the contest. Fans had every right to be frustrated but the match was never in doubt, regardless of how many balls Henry pushed to the side of the net. This isn't about pointing fingers at either side, though. It's time for captain and supporters to kiss and make up.
Thierry Henry, one of the league's highest paid players, has to realize that a 690-minute goal drought is going to bring jeers from any fan base, especially one that was suffering long before Henry came to town, one that has spent years cheering for a team that's always been more Mets than Yankees, more Jets than Giants. At the same time, fans must remember that the Thierry Henry from the days back at Arsenal is gone and likely isn't returning. Henry is now older and has been battling injuries for over a year. Anybody doubting Henry's heart or that he's been frustrated with his recent struggles only needed to see him after the match and the interviews. This is a man that wants to win and wants to do whatever he can to obtain victories.
Henry returned to section 133 once the final whistle blew, handing his jersey to a supporter sitting in the section that the captain had yelled at just minutes before. This truce should be accepted by Red Bulls fans yearning for the same thing as Henry;
wins and a cup.
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