Was it just like watching it at Highbury? Was it just like watching it at the Camp Nou? Well to be honest, it was just enjoyable to see it happen at Red Bull Arena, as Thierry Henry scored his first hat trick in Major League Soccer in a thorough 5-2 dispatching of Montreal.
Down a goal after Sanna Nyassi’s tally, Henry got to work in the 28th minute. After a throw-in from the near side, Rafa Marquez delivered a great cross into the area and Henry headed it inside the near post for the equalizer.
His second came in the second half, as Dax McCarty got a nice ball to start the play in the 56th minute and found Henry wide open. All he had to do was turnaround and shoot and Ricketts was beaten to the far post to put New York on top for good. But the final tally for Henry was in the 89th minute, as he cleaned up the rebound from a Kenny Cooper shot.
For the Red Bulls this is the first hat trick since the 2006 season when Amado Guevara converted two penalties and shot a 21 yard blast against the Kansas City Wizards. That display allowed the team to barely get into the playoffs on the final day of that season. Throughout the four years that Juan Pablo Angel was here, he never got past a brace.
But it’s not just the goals that made Henry special in this match; he also assisted on Mehdi Ballouchy’s first of the season in the 72nd minute. Henry did so with a cheeky back heel as Jan Gunnar Solli got around the sliding defender and made the cross at the end line. All Ballouchy had to do was tap it in.
But while Henry’s performance was exciting, the start of the match wasn’t so good. The Montreal Impact had a great first half as the midfield pressured the Red Bulls and forced them to make some bad mistakes. Nyassi got on the board first after a good save by Ryan Meara that Markus Holgersson botched. Nyassi fought for the ball and scored a great goal to put the Impact ahead in the 18th minute.
After Henry equalized, Justin Mapp was able to walk in without any problems. He found some space from Solli and at the edge of the area ripped a shot inside the far post in the 38th minute.
But inside first half stoppage time, Matteo Ferrari made a terrible decision as he chased and took down Dax McCarty in the area. Referee Michael Kennedy pointed to the spot for the Red Bulls. On the replay Ferrari did get the ball, but he also scissor-tackled McCarty. Cooper converted to equalize before the half time whistle blew.
“We’ve all got to stay focused on how to move ourselves along,” said Montreal head coach Jesse Marsch, “Obviously it’s a moment of big frustration, because we thought it was a good first half but one half doesn’t get you results.”
For the Red Bulls their first two games resulted in no points with a goal and allowing four. With these last two games getting six points with nine goals and allowing three, it looks like the turnaround has started well. We shall see what happens in Columbus next week.