The last time New York took on the Crew, the Red Bulls dismantled their Eastern Conference rival to the tune of 4-1. Though they dominated to open the encounter, their momentum quickly waned in the second half.
Overall, the score told a story that may not have been as damning as the actual play. Thierry Henry is well aware of that and doesn’t expect tonight’s encounter at Red Bull Arena to be a replay.
“It won’t be an easy one … and forget about the 4-1,” Henry told reporters this week. “That was another story, another team for them and another team for us. It’s going to be another fight on Saturday and we will see what is going to happen. They changed their team also and we changed it a little bit. It’s going to be a different game.
“I think the score against Columbus wasn’t actually how the game happened,” he continued. “I don’t know if you remember. The first half, I don’t think they had anything to be honest but then suddenly in the second, (Emilio) Renteria could have had four goals. They hit the crossbar or the post – I can’t remember now – but they had so many opportunities. When you think about it, we took maybe four of our five or six chances and that was the difference between the teams. They didn’t finish well, we did. In the second half we didn’t touch the ball. They had chances after chances.
“We all know it is going to be difficult.”
The changes in Columbus have catapulted the Crew from pretender to contender. Newcomer Federico Higuain and his partner Jairo Arrieta have been two of the hottest strikers in Major League Soccer. Their combined play has inspired the Crew to their current 5th place finish, and an impressive unbeaten streak (4-0-2) which was broken just last week in an away loss to New England.
“At home, we are strong, we know that, (but) Columbus is playing way better,” Henry noted. “Higuain is doing extremely well right now so we have to make sure we can take care of him and take care of business at home.”
In a recent interview with Goal.com, Higuain revealed a heel strain that has been troubling him this week, casting a shadow on his availability for Saturday’s encounter. With or without Higuain, Henry feels New York have many other concerns to focus on, including the team’s conditioning coming out of the international break.
“I don’t know if it came at a good time,” he said. “I thought we were doing well although we could have done better in Kansas City and DC United if you look at the goals we conceded. Other than that, I thought we played well at DC, we didn’t lose for a little while. I don’t know if it came at the right time. Maybe recharged the battery and stuff like that.
“I can assure you something – if we play the same way we played against Portland, against Columbus and Kansas City, I think the first defeat won’t be too far.”
Henry made it clear – the Red Bulls will be drawing inspiration from their unbeaten status at home to deliver a positive result.
“No disrespect, the fans have been brilliant but like I said – when you know you haven’t lost yet at home, you always have that edge in your head that tells you you don’t want to lose your first game today, right? You always have that thing saying we are going to try to stay unbeaten at home this season. “