Thierry Henry is off to a winning start as an MLS coach.
The French former World Cup winning striker — one of the most prolific goal-scorers of his generation — took over the Montreal Impact in November after a disastrous spell in charge of Monaco in 2018-19 that ended after he won just four times in 20 games.
But Henry is now undefeated through his first three competitive contests with the Canadian side after Montreal beat the Bruce Arena-led New England Revolution 2-1 Saturday in Henry’s MLS debut. The victory comes just three days after the Impact advanced to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals on away goals following a pair of ties with Costa Rican power Saprissa, improving Henry’s record to 1W-0L-2D so far. The bleu-blanc-noir travels to FC Dallas next weekend before returning home to face Honduran side Olimipa, which shocked the MLS Cup holders Seattle Sounders by knocking them out of the regional championship.
Montreal went down 1-0 Saturday on a goal by Revs forward Teal Bunbury. But they responded through Rommel Quioto and Maxi Urruti, who scored a beautiful match-winning chip:
— Yahoo Soccer (@FCYahoo) February 29, 2020
“I keep on saying since I’ve been here that we have to fight — that’s the minimum that we have to do,” Henry said afterward. “Let’s not get carried away.”
Henry felt that his team “got lucky in the end” Saturday thanks to Urruti’s audacious strike. Moments earlier, an apparent Revs go-ahead goal was cancelled out for offside following video review.
Still, the former Juventus, Arsenal, Barcelona and New York Red Bulls headliner likes what he’s seen from a team desperate to return to the postseason this year. The Impact has missed the playoffs in each of the last three seasons after reaching the Eastern Conference final in 2016.
One particular area that needs improvement? Defending set plays. That was a weakness for Montreal under former Aston Villa and Lyon boss Remi Garde last season. Bunbury’s first-half volley came after a short corner kick taken by the visitors.
“We have to work on that,” Henry admitted. “We were OK in the first two games [against Saprissa], but we also conceded one against Nashville in preseason. So that’s something we need to work on.
“We need to work on a lot of stuff,” he added.
The schedule won’t do them any favors, though. Montreal plays each of its next five MLS matches away from home, with the CONCACAF quarterfinal opener at Stade Olympique the lone exception.