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Red Bulls Notes: Henry sounds off on FC Dallas loss, Cooper set to start & more



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."


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."


  • 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.


  1. Right on. Especially No. 3. I can’t cite the facts to support it, but I get the feeling that the owners got their stadium, they have their big star, and now their energy drink marketing plan is complete. So they are going to let Soler & Backe do what they want to do, regardless of the results on the field, because all of that is secondary. Its about the buzz and image and selling energy beverages, not the fans.

    Wait until NYC gets another team. The Red Bulls will have the much smaller following. Kinda sad. Allowing a beverage company to own a team may be something MLS soon regrets.

    I think the lack of passionate real people as owners is part of the reason the team can’t put it together. While they have made more than their share of bonehead moves, the talent is there. The resources are there. But the players are not playing for each other and worrying about doing the little things. Its just a job working for some faceless foreign corporation.

  2. Thank you for pointing this out. Not only is he mailing it in by he has/is ruining the team morale. Unfortunately there is a long line of bad signings by this franchise going back to Lothar Mathis. I think he was worse than Backe skiing during the combine since he was tanning on the beach in the south of France during the season. While I commend the Red Bull for spending money and building the arena the New York soccer fan has such a bad taste from years of this franchise floundering. We hope the Red Bull can turn is around about as much as we yearn for the return of the Cosmos. The real question is what happens to the Red Bull if/when there is a second team in NYC?

  3. The Union have several new players and it will take some time for them to get on the same page. They will get better as the season progresses. Most of the DP’s are not worth the money IMO. Going with the cheaper Colombian & Central American players is the way to go in the long run and Peter is building the team that way.

  4. Pallson was impressive in the opener. This is a good pickup for NY. They need more energy in the midfield and he has the physicality to be successful in MLS. I think they have to bench Tainio when Marquez comes back and give this kid a chance.

  5. Backe should have been fired the day after the playoff loss last year. He has been unable to to optimize the wealth of talent that has come through this team. Soler has no clue. He should have been fired after trading Derosario.

    It might be a little nuts but they should make Henry a player /coach

  6. Henry and Backe can rightly complain about mistakes, but if they don’t get more players into the attack quicker, than they’ll need win every game 1-0.

    In the minutes I watched NYRB FB’s and mids were too slow to join the attack. You can’t teach fast.

  7. Everybody’s quick to point the finger at Backe — but the elephant in the living room is Marquez. I can jog faster than he runs on the field. He’s mailing it in and RB hasn’t been able to offload him with his outsized salary.

  8. Doing laundry is a team effort guys. There is no I in team! Come on, put some heart into that lint roller!

  9. How are the Red Bulls not good owners? They got a state of the art stadium built (top three in the league at worst) in an urban area, and their payroll is either highest or second highest in the league. The only problem is Backe/Soler don’t face enough accountability.

  10. Backe appears to have a contempt for American soccer.

    He didn’t even know the Gold Cup was happening in 2011. That alone should be a fireable offence for the coach of any MLS team.

    He wasn’t at the combine, or the draft. All the other coaches were there. I think he was skiing in Scandinavia or something, not even kidding…

  11. Three things that would improve the Red Bulls:

    1) If they had DeRosario instead of McCarty. D’oh!

    2) Firing Hans Backe. He is incompetent and doesn’t seem to respect or care about MLS, so why is he coaching here?

    3) If some of Red Bulls European executives were actually paying attention, and Backe and Soler had some actual accountability.

  12. I tend to agree that the NYRB managing merry-go-round has been absurd. Letting go of Arena was borderline insane, as we’ve seen the last few years with his success in L.A. However, by the all the standards I would judge a manager on, he’s been very, very poor. Set pieces, team discipline, and man management are the core processes that the manager has the most control over and, in all 3 sections, Backe has been uniformly awful and very, very, very late to address problems that seem very clear to outside eyes. I honestly worry that his heart just is not in the job and he is not putting in nearly the hours of study and preparation time that his counterparts are.

  13. I beg to differ. Philadelphia Union try using that same approach and Nowak is horrible as a manager. Philly is off to a terrible start. At this stage of MLS growth, we have surpassed the basic managerial styles implemented a few years ago. We now need EPL style managers to match the DP player pool.

  14. As the clock wound down at the end of the second half, the bulls started to work the ball around and they had some good chances. All Henry did was stand in the midfield with his arms in the air.

  15. I don’t think Backe is trash. Backe is incapable. He’s not a fit for New York, nor is he a good fit for any MLS team. It seems like he still does not understand the MLS culture and the physical endurance this league requires.

    This Backe/NYRB situation is a classic situation of the negatives of bringing in European style to America. Yes, there are positives, but in this case, it’s just wrong.

  16. As a STH, I am extremely happy with Henry. He sometimes expresses frustration–let’s face it, he’s used to playing with better players–but in terms of his effort it is all there.

  17. Agreed, if you keep rotating this team it would be like a chef who is halfway through preparing his meal getting fired and another chef thrown into the kitchen.

  18. from afar, i doubt the owners are ideal but there are worse owners in MLS. NY’s major issues seam to be in the field and front office management.

    i bet Backe will be the first coach to be fired this year.

  19. Backe is not trash. NY fires their coach every few seasons at the most. I understand a lot of their problems are attributable to Hans, but we can’t keep switching. How is a team ever supposed to develop cohesion or identity if we fire the coach every year? If he has another bad season then the conversation starts, but not until September at the earliest.

  20. I don’t follow NYRB that closely either, but each time I have watched them, I have been a bit dissapointed in Henry’s attitude and body language on the field. Perhaps its an unfair reaction on my part, but in the limited times I have seen him play with NY, he has not been the inspirational/emotional leader that I thought he would be. I just don’t see how him showing his clear frustration on the field will necessarily improve the situation.

  21. I am going to reserve all judgement of this team, and its management till the end of june for various reasons; this team is still taking shape- I like alot of the players that Soler has brought in- there has been bumps in the road- The de rosario fiasco- defensive issues- But,until they sign the DP they want to sign during the summer transfer window, Conde is healthy, Marquez is back from suspension and we get to see how he fits in this team at defensive mid, and when and if Rodgers comes back, Then I will judge. It has been only one game. I feel like, especially in this market, when the media presents a team in negative fashion the war horses are drawn in- but we have to look at the truths. There is no doubting when Backe and Soler inheriting this team from osorio- this team was a blank canvas. The first year, it was oh clever Hans, and how Soler is a genius- They did well, they drafted Tchani, Da Luz, Ream, Chinn, Garcia, all of which for, whatever reason, are gone. They transformed the worst team in 2009 into favorites for 2010- although that didnt pan out-it is because of their signings that has givin this team at least a glimmer of hope, has it not? Yet, after a disappointing run in the playoff’s and Henry not in form, Soler and Hans new they had to change things- So they let Angel go, I think for many fans this is when things turned sour, alot of people loved angel but didnt want him to go, but at the same time new that the DP spot must be spent in another position, most clamoring for a attacking mid. This was sure to be fixed by the signing of DERO! A mls cup winner and proven quality in mls- this send jubilation across the fanbase and even Hans said we would be very hard to beat. But, this is where the love for Clever hans started to go sour, its not that we were loosing….its that we coudlnt win…tie after tie- silly mistakes like that which was shown in the first match- DeRO was let go and they got a gk- Rost-which was thought to shore up the defense- When the DP spot was given to Rost the fanbase pretty much quashed all hopes of winning the cup…Rost left and there was a pretty extensive overhaul in the offseason.However, in my personal opinion from what I have seen from Meara has to give some hope to the fanbase. He is young…but fearless- and good positioning- Palsson looks like he can contribute more than what was anticipated- Henry, although people may accuse him of being a prima dona- has shown that he cares by his comments. Conde is going to be scratching tooth and nail to get back to the form that made him the best defender in mls, and I have a feeling this is going to happen. Ricahards has matured under Hans and has even turned down international call ups to stay with the team, Sure holgersson had two gaffes in the first game- but Rodgers didnt have a great first game vs columbus- and it has yet to be seen how he plays alongside conde and Marquez infront of him. Support, this is what this squad this year needs, Support. Has anyone ever pondered, that perhaps the rambunctious negativism caused by this fanbase, has destroyed any glimmer of hope that manifests itself within a redbull camp. Perhaps, if we let them play for what this game is intended for, happiness, then they wont play with anxiety over the harsh eyes cast upon them. Let them play, and most importantly, let them play without scrutiny, and if they still suck; then by all means go scrutinize them.

  22. NY has a good collection of individual talent and Backe and Soler are on their 3rd year. They have to win something this year, but to suggest that they should be run out of town at this moment is ludicrous. We’ve been running coaches out of town for years now. How’d that work out?

  23. New York’s MLS team has been severely mismanaged for years, Backe is not a good manager (Soler is terrible too) and Red Bull aren’t good owners.


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