Top Stories

Henry’s status for second leg at Gillette Stadium still a mystery

Thierry Henry New York Red Bulls 33

Photo by Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports


Thierry Henry has never played a game on the turf field at Gillette Stadium, and it is being left a mystery as to whether or not that streak will come to an end later this month.

The New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution will kick off their two-legged Eastern Conference Championship at Red Bull Arena on Nov. 23, but the series will conclude six days later in New England and Henry’s availability for that decisive game is unknown.

Henry has skipped most games played on turf surfaces since he arrived in MLS in July 2010 to avoid injuries, and has not taken the field in any of New York’s five matches at Gillette Stadium since then. But all those meetings came during the regular season, never in the playoffs, never with a chance to advance to the MLS Cup Final.

It would seem a foregone conclusion that Henry would play in that decisive match, but with Henry and Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke refusing to confirm that he will play, the question continues to linger.

Henry passed on a chance to address the possibility after Saturday’s series-clinching result against D.C. United because the Revs had yet to actually eliminate the Columbus Crew to book their place in the East finals.

Petke turned down his opportunity to address the “Will Henry play at Gillette” question when asked on Tuesday, choosing instead to focus on the first leg of the series, at Red Bull Arena.

“I’m only talking about the game at Red Bull Arena next Sunday. We’re not talking about the following game and what if this and that,” said Petke. “I’ll have plenty to say, we’ll have plenty to talk about at that situation after the game [next] Sunday.

“But definitely I’m not going to let something like that take any type of stage ahead of an important first game of the series at home at Red Bull Arena.”

So why wouldn’t Petke just remove any doubt and just say Henry will play in the second leg? There are plausible scenarios that could see him miss that match.

If the Red Bulls take a commanding lead to Gillette Stadium for the second leg, Petke could choose to sit Henry and only use him if the team gets into trouble. That scenario seems a bit unlikely considering the Revolution’s recent 11-1-1 run.

Henry has had recent problems in the Achilles tendon in both legs, and playing him in the second match could mean the risk of losing him for the MLS Cup Final, and possibly beyond.

For a player who has yet to make his plans after 2014 publicly known, and whose contract expires at the end of the season, playing on artificial turf would carry even more risk than just a potential injury. That means this same dilemma could arise again if the Red Bulls reach the MLS Cup Final and face the Seattle Sounders, who also play on artificial turf.


  1. The turf at Gillette is an upgraded surface they just installed last year. It’s the best there is and has the highest FIFA rating for any turf. It is a soft turf which actually helps with tendon injuries IMO.

  2. I see this as gamesmanship and leaving the Revs guessing so they have to prepare both for him playing and not. Anything for an edge in the playoffs.

  3. No to turf! Turf fields are abomination and completely discredit the little credibility MLS has.

    I refuse to watch any games on turf! Seattle, Revs, Timbers home games-I switch the channel immediately.

    No to turf! Not now, not never!

  4. Well, he plays in PDX, and I thought the new turf at Gillette was supposed to be as good. Does it have an E-layer like Providence does? I have the worst knees and ankles, and I run on that turf without issue; but not for 90.

  5. By all means, Petke should reveal his entire game 2 lineup and formation now, weeks ahead of time, and even before the first game, so the opposition can plan for it starting now. That is what winning managers do — if there is a question mark that leaves a bit of doubt about your strategy, give up the answer way in advance of it being necessary because a reporter asked you. Said no one ever.

  6. It’s pretty simple. The Red Bulls need to maintain their intensity and level of play they’ve displayed during the play-offs and they’ll have a chance to go to NE with a lead, at which point Henry can sit and come off the bench if needed. And if they need a result in NE, you have to believe he’ll play at least part of the game, as will Olave.

  7. Lost in all the awe about the mighty Revolution (11-1-1!!!!!!! OMG!!!) is that NY beat them on the magical turf at Gillette earlier this year without Henry, Olave, Dax, and others.

    I think the back line in that game was Kimura – Miazga – Armando – Duvall. Yikes.

  8. “All that said, it would be difficult to see a competitor like Henry pass on a chance to take a run at a title, even if it means playing a few matches on artificial turf. Until he or the Red Bulls say for sure, we will be left wondering just what Henry will do.”

    If he were a competitor, he wouldn’t have skipped every other game on turf so far. What a crazy comment.

    • MLS regular season is practically pointless, and everyone knows it…why abuse your 37 year old body if you don’t have to?
      Much smarter to rest when you can avoid the bad surface, and be at full strength for the playoffs.
      If you think that makes him less of a competitor…yeah, sure.

    • Are you really having trouble differentiating between regular season and the eastern conference finals? Also trouble understanding these may very well be the LAST soccer games he ever plays?

  9. if i was the revs i would attack with all might the first half, and if no goals come to fruition then they should park the bus the second half. we all know that henry will not play at gillete, if he were there would not be a discussion made about if he is or not.

  10. Really? This is honestly being debated? Yeah, turf fields are terrible but the pros outweigh the risks. Guess Henry doesn’t really intend to retire.


Leave a Comment