By DAN MONTESANO
HARRISON, N.J. — Thierry Henry's goal drought had been approaching three months, with a combination of injuries and ineffective finishing accounting for 11 Red Bulls matches without a goal from the star Frenchman.
Henry ended that drought in spectacular fashion on Wednesday, delivering a game-winning goal in the process. To come up with his 71st-minute strike in the Red Bulls' 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire, Henry chested down a long cross from Sebastien Le Toux and hit a left-footed volley from a tight angle to beat Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson with a highlight-reel effort.
"It was just striker's instinct," Henry said. "Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don't, but I'm never scared to try. I was pretty useless recently because of injuries, not delivering. I had to do something today."
Both teams tried to maintain a slower, deliberate pace as the temperature reached 101 degrees by first kick, making Henry's golazo as vital as it was pretty.
"It's an absolutely phenomenal strike and probably one of the few guys that can do those kind of goals," Red Bulls coach Hans Backe said.
Here are a couple of other notes from the Red Bulls:
ROOKIE LADE MAKES DIFFERENCE OFF BENCH
One of the major turning points for the Red Bulls Wednesday was the introduction of rookie Connor Lade off the bench. Lade came on as a sub in the 60th minute for Victor Palsson, and immediately began creating havoc down the right side for New York despite usually being a left-sided player. His energy and movement created space for Henry and LeToux, and it wasn't until Lade's entry that the Red Bulls seized complete control and capitalized on their possession advantage.
Henry credited the Lade substitution with being the difference in the game.
"I've been saying it for a very long time, for me, he's the player of the season so far, with Brandon (Barklage)," Henry said. "As soon as he came on, the game changed. He was twisting, turning, jumping everywhere. When I turned and saw he was coming on it gives you a lift, a big lift."
At 5-foot-5, Lade is far from the biggest presence on the field, but he was able to use his pace to create chances for New York while applying pressure on the Chicago defenders.
"All I want to do is get on the field, whether it's the whole game or 20 minutes, I'm going to play as hard as I can," said Lade. "Fortunately, coach Backe had the confidence to put me in."
LE TOUX CONTINUES TO CONTRIBUTE
Despite not being able to put away any of his chances, the newly acquired LeToux also proved to be a difference maker for New York, assisting on Henry's goal a game after scoring in his debut against former club Seattle on Sunday.
"I missed a lot tonight, so I can say I can improve a lot with my finishing," LeToux said. "But I was happy I created some opportunities today."
The partnership of LeToux and Henry was effective against the Fire, as Kenny Cooper started the game on the bench but came on for Henry in the 82nd minute. It was a shift from Sunday's 2-2 draw against Seattle, when Backe chose to deploy all three strikers on the field together.
Le Toux will aim to continue his run of form against another former club this weekend, as he gets a chance to go up against the Philadelphia Union — the team that traded him to Vancouver in the offseason — when the two regional rivals meet Saturday at Red Bull Arena. Le Toux has already had one chance to go up against the Union this season, failing to score in the Whitecaps' 0-0 draw at PPL Park on March 31.