If Thierry Henry’s about to say goodbye to Major League Soccer, he’s doing so on a high note. His stint is one that caps one of the most productive four-and-a-half year stretches in league history. True, extending his deal at Red Bull Arena could still happen, but there’s a growing and now very public feeling the 37-year-old, out of contract at the end of the year, will use this fall has his sunset. With 48 goals, 39 assists in 113 MLS games thus far, one of the league’s biggest stars may ride off into that impending night.
On Saturday in Harrison, N.J., the four-time All-Star gave Red Bulls fans a brilliant, almost wistful reminder of what they will miss, a process that didn’t start until after the wayward Impact took a first half lead. Then, the captain responded. A layout header in the 59th. A topspin bouncer in the 67th. A perfectly weighted through ball for Bradley Wright-Phillips in the 74th. With a stern reaction that spoke to his intent, Henry, evermore the worn solider harnessing his moments of brilliance, left no doubt. I took this game over. I won it for us. I can still be elite.
The outburst gives Henry seven goals and 11 assists this year. Maintain his current rates through game 34 and Henry could end up with 10 and 16, the latter a career high. Most years, that puts you in the MVP conversation. This year, given how important he’s been to New York – propping Wright-Phillips up as the league’s top scorer – Henry’s numbers might put him among the favorites.
It would have been unreasonable for New York to expect more from a man who was supposed to be their David Beckham, though in that light, Henry’s time in New York can also be seen as a missed opportunity. Though Beckham’s run in Los Angeles vaulted the Galaxy franchise toward a $170 million value, Henry’s impact off the field has been less pronounced. Whereas once Red Bull looked prime to use their new star to finally make a dent in the New York market, four more years on the fringe of the city’s sport scene have cemented their place. With New York City FC set to being play next season, the Red Bulls seemed destined to become the Devils to NYC FC’s more glamorous Rangers.
It’s worth noting that according to Forbes, New York’s franchise value is $114 million, below that of Houston ($125m) and Toronto ($121m), seemingly destined to be usurped by Sporting KC ($108).