Living as I do in an area owned by a cable company that refuses to carry MSG, (even though every so often they will play a Knicks game on one of their surplus channels,) I relish the opportunity to watch the Redballs on ESPN. Add to that the debut of Marquez, the first national TV appearance of Henry, and the fact that the match was against Chicago, a team I've grown to dislike heartily over the last few seasons, I was looking forward to last night's matchup all week.
Needless to say, I was somewhat disappointed. I never expected Marquez to play the entire match, and 60 minutes was about all you could want from him in his debut. He seemed to have a definite presence in the midfield, providing a link between the defense and the forwards, even if the play from the back seemed a little tentative at first.
Obviously the main source of disappointment, apart from the lack of goals, was the departure before the half of Henry. For most of his 45 minutes, Henry was a man among boys, and you have to think that had he not been taken off as a precaution, he would have found a way to the back of the net. Two sequences in particular stand out from him. The first was a run at the left side of the box, where he followed up a stutter step with a long touch and sprint that led to a shot on goal, saved by Johnson, who absolutely stood on his head in this match to keep New York from scoring. The second was on the right side, just outside the area, where Henry pulled off a series of aerial touches, juggling the ball around and over Chicago defenders, before chipping a pass into the area that Kandji could have done more with.
These were just two moments, there were others, but if this is what we are going to see on a regular basis, I will probably have to buy that Direct Kick package.
The team continued to play well, even after Henry and Marquez were taken off. Stammler filled in well and had a nice shot, maybe not quite on goal, but close enough for Johnson to save and earn a corner kick. Angel had a couple of shots that were somehow stopped by the Chicago keeper, who also got his hand on a cracker from Tim Ream that was heading under the bar.
This is the first time in months that i've gotten to watch a Redballs game, and although I was disappointed by the result, especially considering that the tally for shots was 22(!) to 6, but there was a great deal that was encouraging. Unfortunately, the next game on a channel I actually get may be months away...