By DAVE MARTINEZ
As the final whistle blew on the New York Red Bulls' season-opening loss to FC Dallas, no one was more visibly angered than Thierry Henry – and with good reason. The Red Bulls' lack of rhythm, cohesion and inability to move forward was a throw-back to a time he would have much rather forgotten.
"It reminded me of last year," Henry said after yesterday’s practice session. "Two mistakes, two goals; that was the difference between the two teams. We have to stop that or we're going to have the same season again."
Red Bulls coach Hans Backe, who labeled the goals "crappy" in his postgame recap, doubled down on the captain’s words.
"It’s very difficult to be two down," Backe said. "We missed twice to clear the ball, and of course everyone gets frustrated going down like that when we’re not under pressure. Second goal, of course it is too sloppy. You need to have the vision to see when they close us down on one side so you can’t go for blind passes and set up a free run."
For Henry, the loss itself wasn't as bad as how it transpired.
"Losing against Dallas, it’s not the end of the world," Henry said, "But if you look at the way we conceded the two goals, it is."
New York gave up the first goal off of a failed clearance off a set piece, and the second off of an errant backwards pass that was easily scooped up by Blas Perez, who fed Ricardo Villar for the finish.
"It’s not the first time," Henry said. "With (Backe) the other day, we counted at least 19 goals that we conceded like that since we’ve been here. Still, that can be avoided. It’s not like they outplayed us on the two goals; they were definitely two mistakes. It does happen. I do mistakes – everybody does. But we have to correct that."
Conceding the early goal and failing to execute a semblance of an attack forced Henry to drop back into the midfield in a vain attempt to open up the offense – a position he did not want to be in.
"We do talk about something at the beginning of the game that we’re going to play and we don’t (execute)," Henry explained. "So it is frustrating.
"I don’t like to come down and ask for the ball. I would rather stay up front and make the run behind the defense, but sometimes you've got to do what the game is asking you to do, and I had to drop. We’ve got to stick to the plan. (Backe) put a plan at the beginning of the game and we’ve got to stick to it, but we didn’t.”
When asked why the team failed to carry out the plan, the captain was at a loss for words. "I don’t know," Henry said. "I don’t have an answer to that. But what I try to do is what we’re asking to be done: Play."
Henry added that the personnel on the field did not have much to do with his frustration, but that he had to take it upon himself to see more of the ball.
"I have no problem with anybody," Henry said. "I try to play everyone. It was Kenny the other day. It could have been (Agudelo). It was more difficult for us in the first half, because they were putting pressure and I don’t think we did pretty well to come out from the back on the ground. So in the second half I decided to drop and get the ball. It’s not what I wanted to do, but if I don’t, sometimes I don’t see the ball up there.”
In his view, the problem is not with the team’s talent, nor their make-up, but the execution on the field.
"I don’t think this team needs another playmaker. You have players that can play – I can do that myself, you saw it. That’s not the point,” he said. "If a team does beat us, then they have to work to beat us, not us give them the opportunity to beat us every single time.
“This is not my team. This is our team. Here’s the thing you don’t understand; in America, you guys love individual stuff. It is a team effort when you win the game, nothing to do with individual. The team takes you somewhere and the individual takes control in the last minute – not in the beginning. You’ve got to have a team and play as a team.
"It is a team effort, and it has got to be a team effort if you want to win something. Then the individuals, every now and then, step up, but other than that it has got to be a team effort. I’ve said that for a very long time. Who scored for Salt Lake? First one (Sebastian) Velasquez, then (Fabián) Espíndola, then another day it can be someone else. It’s not about who, what DP, no DP. It is a team effort and everybody – from Fernando the kit man to us – everybody has to pull the same weight and sometimes we don’t."
RSL UP NEXT
Facing a match against a difficult Real Salt Lake opponent this weekend at Rio Tinto, Henry had nothing but praise for the 2009 MLS Cup champions.
"I told you for a very long time, (Salt Lake is) far ahead of us," he said. "For me, I said it for a very long time – they are, if not with L.A., the best team in this league – by a distance. It’s not a coincidence that we didn’t beat them yet since I’m here. Not a lot of teams beat Salt Lake, especially at their place. It’s going to be a difficult task. Talent is not enough, and you know it and I know it. We just have to work."
One face who may crack the lineup this week is midfielder Victor Palsson, who was used as a substitute against FC Dallas.
"We’ll see," Backe said. "We’ll try to find some different options than we have used before. (Palsson) could also be a guy that can start at Salt Lake because of his physical power."
NEWS AND NOTES
- Backe was featuring Kenny Cooper up top with Henry at practice. Juan Agudelo left on Tuesday to join the US U-23 side as it trains prior to the CONCACAF Olympic qualifiers, and Cooper is the likely choice to start alongside Henry against RSL. The two combined for New York's goal against FCD, with Henry looping a ball to Cooper, who lobbed it first-time over an on-rushing Kevin Hartman.
- Backe also expects Wilman Conde to begin training again on Monday in preparation for a possible start against the Rapids for New York’s home opener. Conde suffered a strained thigh in the Desert Diamond Cup during the preseason.
- There was neither an update nor timeline given on Luke Rodgers’ ongoing pursuit for a work visa. He was supposed to have a meeting with the U.S. embassy a week ago to move along in the process.