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Henry announces his departure from Red Bulls

Thierry Henry New York Red Bulls 14

Photo by Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports
 

By FRANCO PANIZO

Thierry Henry is not retiring just yet, but he is leaving the New York Red Bulls.

Just two days after seeing his fifth season with the Red Bulls come to a close, Henry announced through the club that he would not be coming back after his contract expires at season’s end. The 37-year-old forward had been rumored to be leaving New York for much of the season, but insisted throughout that he would wait until the end of the season to decide.

“I am taking this opportunity to announce that unfortunately Saturday was my last game for the New York Red Bulls,” Henry said in a statement. “The decision has always been that I would leave after the duration of my contract and although that was never going to change, I didn’t want it to distract from the progress of the team.

“I have immensely enjoyed my four and half years here and would like to thank everyone involved with this club who has made my time here so enjoyable.”

The Frenchman signed with the Red Bulls as a Designated Player following the conclusion of the 2010 World Cup, and finishes his four-and-a-half years with several club records. He finished first in assists, game-winning goals, game-winning assists and shots, and was second all-time in goals.

Henry made 122 appearances for New York, ranking him ninth in appearances for the club, and 118 of those were starts. He was named the team’s MVP in 2012 and was a finalist for the league’s MVP award that year, was an MLS All-Star during each of the four seasons from 2011-2014, and was on the MLS Best XI in 2011 and 2012.

Additionally, Henry helped bring New York its first piece of significant hardware with the capture of the 2013 Supporters’ Shield.

“Thierry Henry, an icon of the world’s game, has been a wonderful player for the New York Red Bulls and a major influence on the development of MLS,” said New York Red Bulls sporting director Andy Roxburgh. “It has been a privilege to have watched Thierry’s illustrious career unfold since he was 17 years-old, and it has been a particular joy to watch him, at close quarters, lead the New York Red Bulls over the last two seasons. We sincerely wish him all the best for his future.”

Henry’s final match for the Red Bulls came on Saturday, as he took to the turf field at Gillette Stadium for the second leg of the Eastern Conference finals against the New England Revolution. He impressed in the match, setting up New York’s opening goal and getting involved in several of the team’s more dangerous attacks.

His performance was not enough to overturn a 2-1 deficit after the first leg, and the 2-2 draw in New England ended the Red Bulls’ season and concurrently his time at the club.

“Thanks must go particularly to Erik Soler, Hans Backe, Gerard Houllier, Andy Roxburgh, Mike Petke, all my team mates, the technical staff, medical staff, all the personnel who work for the Red Bull organization, the MLS and of course the owner Mr Mateschitz whose vision and passion brought me to this wonderful city,” said Henry. “A special mention must go to the Red Bull fans who have supported this team through the good, the bad and the ugly times in the sun, rain and snow. You guys have really meant a lot to me and thank you for all your wonderful support.

“I will now take the next few weeks to reflect and decide on the next chapter of my career.”

Surprised by the decision? Glad Henry came to MLS? Where does he rank on the list of all-time MLS greats? Where do you think he will head next?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. Have people already forgotten who henry really was. Divisive both on and off the field. A superstar that had all the tools but barked orders and provide very little. Four and a half years and only one trophy! Lets be real and recognize that these past four years were not the glory days. This team made it to the semifinal on the backs of those non dp players. Last time I checked this dp didn’t step up when it most mattered: no effort in the loss to sanjose four years ago, let Roy miller take the last shot, and can’t forget the encroachment against DC. He continually belittled all his partners angel, rodgers, cooper, and BWP. People and media may romanticize this era but I hope reality sets in and people shut it. Henry was an overwhelming failure one that should not even be discussed. I know the truth hurts but real dps bring trophies and play with heart. They don’t walk up and down the field based on their legendary status. The league deserves better. I hope the media is as critical of henry as they were of rafa Marquez.

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    • Henry was not perfect, but when you ignore his contributions to this year’s successes and then compare him to Rafa Marquez, well I don’t know what to say . . .

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  2. Legend! It’s been an honor and privilege watching this maestro ply his craft with my club. He will be missed immensely. Titi eres un idolo! Thank you for the wonderful and unforgettable moments. Absolute legend!

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  3. One of the truly great players in the world in the last couple of decades, and the best to have played in MLS by far. I consider myself lucky to have seen him work his magic both at Barcelona and with the Red Bulls.

    Thank you Titi

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  4. I for one am glad he made this announcement after the season. I hate the early season, in advance, retirement announcements designed to maximize praise and personal adulation received throughout the player’s final season.

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  5. Titi was a joy to watch, an amazing player. The best ever talent in MLS, by some distance in my opinion. I’m not sure how much he truly loved this club, or rather the ownership, but he deserves respect for his desire to keep quiet about leaving.

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  6. Red bulls future does not look good at all. Their owners will not get them a new DP or dps, their uniform and crest is red bull authentic and not New York style.
    The only good thing about red bull is their stadium and if I was a billionaire, I would buy this team and make a super ownership group like in Los Angeles2 team.
    It’s now or never for red bull to stand and represent New York and New Jersey and give MLS fans a great New York rivalry. If I was garber I would give them 5 years or less to sell or regroup their future plans.
    But if garber ever wants to be honest, then talk to cosmos and give them a second chance because I don’t see red bull surpassing nycfc.

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  7. His assist on Saturday was vintage. Ridiculous touch, vision, placement, fluidity etc all, to put that ball right onto Cahill’s body in that tight of a space off a pivot.

    I can’t imagine what it would have been like to see this man in his prime in the Arsenal days. I was always amazed at how well positioned and how he was always a pass or two ahead of the game when I watched in person.

    Echo everything said – will be interesting to see how everything plays out. This is a major off season for the franchise given the NYFC debut.

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  8. Sad for my NYRB and MLS fans. Only thing I think we can be certain of is NYRB have to make another splash signing, if for nothing else, it keeps up with the new NYFC club in terms of “owning” the tri state. Got to admit though, it would be pretty cool to see him at Arsenal for 6 months in 2015. Farewell to one of the best entertainers the game has ever seen. Felt privileged to see him at certain points over his 20 year career at Arsenal and NY and you always felt you were about to witnesshistory or something no one else could ever do on the pitch. The type of player I’ll be telling my kids about when theyre old enough.

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  9. This is Henry in context. This is what a true world class player looks like. This is what a world class soccer brain produces in words and deeds. This, even taking him in his mid-30s, is the kind of player the US has never produced. This is what’s still missing from the US National Team. This is what MLS can be. This is what a home run DP investment looks like. This, even at 37, is the kind of best-in-league skill you can get from a world class player with heart and health. This is the gulf between world class and your average MLS “star,” not to mention the more average MLS players. This is what the face of an organization is supposed to look like. This is how you create oodles of lasting memories for 10 year old kids and the 40 year parents buying their shirts. This is how you are supposed to go out, leaving them wanting more. This has been an absolute privilege.

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    • “This is the gulf between world class and your average MLS “star” ”

      So Henry should have won MVP every year instead of winning it zero times and only runner up once ?

      I am going to disagree. It was a pleasure watching him. NY is way worse off right now. Disagree still.

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      • The MVP and the best player are not the same thing. The MVPs in Henry’s full seasons have been Mike Magee, Wondo, DeRo, and David Ferreira. Was Henry a better soccer player than those folks were in the years they won? Yes. If you had first pick in a draft, would you take Henry each and every year over any of those players? Yes. If you are the 2012 USMNT manager and you could select either Wondo or Henry, would you take Henry? Yes.

  10. As a Galaxy fan, I am more disappointed to see Henry leave than I was to see Beckham leave. Henry is an absolute legend. We’ve been very lucky to watch him ply his trade on our shores for so long.

    I really hope he retires with Arsenal. I’d like to see him play a few more games.

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    • Beckham won a few titles, but I was glad when Beckham took the field against my Sounders, you knew he was dangerous, especially on free kicks, but you knew there were holes to be exploited because he was playing.
      Not so with Henry, maybe because he played a more advanced position, but mostly because he is still playing at a very high level.

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  11. A very, very sad day for RBNY and its supporters. Henry was the heart, soul, and mind of this team. He tried to will this team to success, through his play and his passion, and even through those moments when he was openly critical, he just “got it”. He took the time to study opponents and the league as a whole. He respected the history of the franchise. He never went public with what have been some very deep frustration with the club and its direction. He demanded the best of everybody around him. And those goals, and those passes! I was lucky enough to be at Red Bull Arena to witness his rocket of a goal against SKC, perfectly struck from the top of the area into the top corner after he created just enough space for himself. After the cheering had crested, I simply had to stand and just applaud. It was a privilege to watch this master at work.

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  12. I like that he went out playing well.

    I like that he waited until the season was over to exit. Team sport, let the team go as far as it can without distractions.

    I am a little miffed if he like Beckham “retires” from another league/team after several years here. Arsenal didn’t exactly treat him right at the end there, so the reward is he comes back to retire? Retire a Red Bull and do MLS a solid for how they finished your career.

    I think you could see it coming that this was the last chance station for this version of the Red Bulls, both because of Henry’s age and the entry of City.

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  13. I echo Ryan’s comments. It was a pleasure watching him play, and I’m a bit heartbroken to be honest, as there really isn’t someone who can come in an replace him. He was truly an amazing talent.

    At this point, I’d almost be willing to let the young guys play, but the team needs to invest in a USL team to ensure that young guys are getting meaningful games to season them for MLS play.

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    • There are dozens of guys who can replace him if Red Bull is willing to spend. I don’t want to sit through a bunch of USL level scrubs trying to scrape into the playoffs. I want to watch good players. Get your checkbook out Red Bull!!

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      • That’s what Liverpool fans were saying when Suarez left. It is very hard to replace a great player, even an aging great player.

      • If this was Henry circa 2004, I’d agree there are very few, if any, who could replace him. He is not at that level any more. Henry is as good as Suarez right now?

      • Of course, Henry is not as good as Suarez today, but none of Henry’s current teammates would make Liverpool squad (so the gap between the best player and the rest of the squad is comparable). Let’s be real, neither Suarez, nor Messi, nor Ronaldo are coming to MLS in their prime.

    • It is going to be interesting…Henry is not replaceable without bringing in a Messi/Ronaldo and that isn’t happening. They will likely keep BWP, Dax and Olave with Robles as the spine of the team for veteran leadeship but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sekagya, Miller, Convey, Cahill, Luyindula, Alexander all out through Expansion Draft/decline in options….the problem is who steps in. Maybe focusing on youth will provide better depth in the future but man, looking at the roster that they have, this is a 3 year plan at best with a lot of losses.

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      • This team can retool easily over the offseason if they’re serious about it. There’s no need to take three years to build a team. Henry was fantastic but he is nowhere near a Messi/Ronaldo level. There are probably 100 guys in Europe (or more) playing at a similar level. If he went to Arsenal now, would he even be their best player? I would say no, not even close. And Arsenal is a pretty big team but hardly the biggest.

        They have to identify players who are at a stage in their career where they would consider a move to MLS. If they are willing to pay an appropriate salary, there are plenty of guys who would come here and live in NYC in relative anonymity for a few years.

        If RBNY is going to cheap out and try to sell us on rebuilding or some such garbage, I for one am not buying it. Particularly when they’re too cheap to have a USL Pro team. There’s a reason SKC and RSL build the way they do – they play in tiny markets and don’t have much money. RBNY should not be building this way and if they are, then Red Bull should sell to someone serious.

      • If you feel this way, you should be picketing the league’s headquarters and demanding that they get rid of the salary cap.

      • If you bring in expensive DPs, this weakens the remainder of your roster. A team without DP, could pay more to it non-DP players that the team with 3 DPs. Although the salary cap hit of the DP is smaller than the DP’s salary, it is not insignificant and makes the team less competitive in terms of salaries it is able to play to non-DP players. Accordingly, it is harder to assemble quality support cast for your stars.

      • I don’t have a problem with the current system. You can still bring in high level DPs if you are willing to spend. Maybe one day, we can just have a free for all but not yet.

      • Well…Thierry Henry absolutely abused Bayern Munich’s guys in the MLS All-Star game. His touch, vision, passing, and size – he roughed up several Bayern guys in the first half, threw some of the hardest challenges on the field, which made it kind of amusing that he was the one Pep Guardiola chose to whine to after the game instead of shaking Caleb Porter’s hand. And even the pride of Germany couldn’t do much to slow him down.

        Right now he’s just on a different planet in terms of how he’s seeing and playing the game. He’s sort of re-invented himself as a free-floating midfielder, a guy who can launch passes like Pirlo but who has the size of a Yaya Toure. There’s certainly not 100 like him. There may not even be another one like him; he’s ten times the #10 that Jack Wilshere is for Arsenal right now.

      • Yup…. it’s a quandry. Unfortunately, NYRB ownership seems to have lost faith that success can be bought, and are now faced with the unpleasant challenge of a new neighbor (who is almost certainly willing to accept some initial losses, if history is any indicator) trying the same strategy.

        NYRB loses money. More than any other team in the league, if the Forbes estimates are to be believed. Henry (and perhaps Cahill) rolling off the books would go a long way towards changing this. But it could be very costly to market share to abandon starpower right now.

        I think you’re right that fielding a team of talented role players and cheaper DP-types is probably not the right option for them right now — even if the team performed reasonably well. It just may not be the best time to “look cheap”. We’ll see how NYRB ownership sees it.

  14. This was expected…real class guy who was in my opinion the best overall attacking player to play in MLS. Henry was smooth on the ball and his vision for passes was always two or three plays ahead of what was going on at that particular moment. It certainly was a privilege to watch him play in MLS for the past four and a half years–good luck on future endeavors Mr. Henry!!

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    • +1. Henry was the best overall attacking player to play in MLS. Watching Henry, especially on those nights when he was “on” and feeling it, he was worth the price of admission.

      The respect he showed for MLS was also inspiring. He studied the teams, he learned the league history (example: black and red armband to pay tribute to the Metrostars), and his intensity was something to see. It was always expected that he would leave, but still sad to see him go.

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    • Henry was a fantastic player even at this stage of his career. I fully agree that his ability to read and understand the game was far superior to other players that took the field with him in the last few years. I remember watching him against DCU when he elegantly peeled off defenders and dropped back into space with no DCU players within 10 yards from him, but his teammate instead of making an easy pass to Henry launched a speculative ball forward to a winger who was covered by two DCU players and the ball was intercepted. Henry was visibly upset and shook his head in disbelief. And I thought, I can’t blame him for getting frustrated.

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      • It is good that you and Henry understood what should have happened.

        Keep educating the fans, players and coaches of MLS !

      • Yes this guy only watches european games and therefore has a superior level of understanding. He is so wise.

  15. Probably head back to Arsenal to finish out the season. It’s been a pleasure watching Henry these past few years but I won’t miss him terribly. I never really felt he connected with the fans. Replacing him on the field will be impossible given that RBNY are apparently cheaping out going forward. Probably the last game for Cahill as well.

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      • Yeah, I guess to each his own. Just kind of felt he was a little aloof. Doesn’t really matter because he’s going to be difficult to replace from a football perspective which is the only really important thing anyway.

    • Agreed. It sounds like a disgruntled Cahill won’t be sticking around. I’m not a NYRB fan, but I sure hope no Euro club swoops in for BWP too. I’d hate to see this team completely gutted.

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      • I hope BWP sticks around too because I’d like to see how he plays without the maestro pulling his strings. Thierry Henry made a lot of guys look very good. I’m not saying Kenny Cooper and Rogers were on the same level as BWP – they were not – but we’d be remiss to ignore Henry’s contributions to those guys’ success.

    • I really don’t understand your comment about not connecting with the fans. I thought he was great. He always gave shouts to the Supporters Section during and post-game, he always acknowledged the applause on corners, he recognized the Metro history, gave props to Petke when they won the Shield, he did all the signings and tv interviews, and wore his heart on his sleeve. What more were you looking for as a fan?

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    • I loved watching him. He was by far my favorite on the team (and in the league).

      It might be impossible to replace him even if they don’t cheap out.

      Reply

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