Now, here’s something you don’t see very often: an opposing coach in the Red Bulls locker room. D.C. United coach Ben Olsen (left) and former Red Bulls interim head coach Richie Williams talks with Thierry Henry (right). (Michael Lewis Photo)
By Michael Lewis
HARRISON, N.J. — For the first time in quite a while, Thierry Henry was in the house at Red Bull Arena Sunday night.
He didn’t necessarily like what he saw on the field, but he certainly loved what was on the scoreboard:
Red Bulls 1, D.C. United 0
“That’s the most important thing,” he said outside the Red Bulls locker room afterwards. “They needed that.”
It was far from the prettiest performance the Red Bulls put forth this season as they grinded out a win. The beautiful game, it wasn’t.
Of course, during his 4 1/2-year tenure with the MLS club, Henry could be the harshest critic — of himself and of the team.
On Sunday, he wasn’t impressed with what transpired on the field while talking to a reporter.
“Are you talking about football or the result?” he asked.
Still, Henry’s former teammates welcomed him back with open arms, even though he had been known to throw some verbal darts at some of them.
His favorite target was striker Bradley Wright-Phillips, whom the French World Cup champion claimed could have recorded 40 goals in a season the way Henry set him up to score.
When asked his feelings about Henry, BWP replied, “Amazing. I want to get a goal. I think i was thinking about it too much and I missed a sitter late in the game. It is what it is. It’s good to see him. The guys get to meet him because he is so knowledgeable of the game and such a nice guy.”
Well, perhaps not always in his criticism.
Asked what Henry said to him, Wright-Phillips replied, “He told me to tell him about the miss. He doesn’t change, this man.”
Afterwards, Henry spoke with BWP again.
United head coach Ben Olsen and Richie Williams, a former MetroStars midfielder and two times an interim Red Bulls coach, talked to Henry inside the Red Bulls locker room. Now, that’s something you don’t see every day — the opposing coach inside the hosts’ sanctuary.
Not many Red Bulls remain from Henry’s tenure with the Red Bulls, with whom he starred from July 2010 through the end of the 2014 season.
Team captain Luis Robles was one of those players who performed with Henry, who helped Beligum finish third at the World Cup last month as an assistant coach.
When asked if he did anything differently of want to impress with the current Belgium assistant national coach in the house, the veteran goalkeeper said, “Not necessarily. When I made the free kick save on [Wayne] Rooney, I winked at him in the box.”
The assembled media laughed.
Then Robles got serious.
“It’s great to have him back because he’s an important part of our history,” he said. So much what he’s done was to lay the foundation. Since he came in 2010 there has been a lot of success, there’s a lot of wins, a couple of silverware and you see that he’s been a part of that. He’s one of the cornerstones that helped this organization propel forward. We’re still not there yet. We need more guys like Henry. It’s just great that he still has the desire to come back and watch. Even when he’s here, there’s a part of me that wonders just because he’s a genius of the game, what’s your evaluation, what did you see? I would love to hear his perspective. May we’ll have time to hear it.”
Like it or not, Robles might not like what Henry had to say.