Henry helps Red Bulls down Arsenal in New York Cup victory

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

HARRISON, N.J. – New York Red Bull and Arsenal fans gathered to celebrate the career of Thierry Henry, and while he may not have scored, he certainly made an impact.

A sublime corner kick service from the Arsenal great found defender Ibrahim Sekagya in the box, who flicked on Bradley Wright-Phillips for the game’s deciding goal. The 1-0 New York Cup victory over Arsenal is the first win by a Major League Soccer team against Premiership competition this season.

“It was great,” Henry said after the match. “The fans obviously enjoyed it. Like I said before, it wasn’t the most important thing to win the game, but we won it and our focus now is on Salt Lake.”

Henry nearly opened the game with much more than just a secondary assist. The Red Bull captain went in one-on-one with keeper Wojciech Szczesny in the opening minutes, but the netminder did well to push his attempt away.

Action fell into a lull through the middle half of the first, with Arsenal sending a pair of wanting shots wide of net. That is when MLS Golden Boot leader Wright-Phillips made his mark, sinking a nodded Sekagya ball into the back of the net in the 32nd minute.

Arsenal attempted to answer back, but New York’s other in-form star, Luis Robles, proved up to the challenge. The Gunners combined for a surgical one-touch passing game through the Red Bull defense, freeing Jack Wilshere up for a shot. A sprawling Robles did well to mute the opportunity.

Henry left the field in the 52nd minute to a standing ovation from the Red Bull and Arsenal faithful.

“It was amazing to see how the fans were giving me a standing ovation when I came out,” Henry said.

A slew of second half substitutions, however, broke the flow of the match.

The Gunners managed to beat Robles in the 60th minute — or so they thought. Abou Diaby’s goal was called back for offside. Their next best opportunity of the half came in the 79th minute, with a charging Robles beating Chuba Akpom.

U.S. target Gedion Zelalem served as an interesting subplot to the encounter. For his part, the 17-year-old German-American played a quiet 45 minutes at right midfield, giving little for U.S. fans to latch onto in his first professional appearance on American soil.

The Red Bulls continue their MLS campaign this Wednesday, traveling out to Utah to take on Real Salt Lake.

  • Newbold

    Excellent performance. Red Bulls were easily the better team and the balance looked much better with Miller at left back. Robles should be the USMNT no. 3.