A better title would probably be "The Thierry Henry Experiment Begins" as this is the first time the Frechman will play on the pitch of Red Bull Arena. Before getting into the preview, it has been reported that he will only play 45 minutes this game. He is not soccer shape yet, at least the kind of shape to play the full 90 so he will only play the first half. Another thing to note is that Juan Pablo Angel is not starting today. Now that I've gotten that out of the way, here's what you can expect.
The game is by most reports almost sold out and should be by game time. Games where the Red Bulls are playing have been selling very well since the announcement of the newest addition to the team, but the Sporting Lisbon vs. Manchester City game is not selling well at all. Unfortunately the Portuguese population of the Ironbound is not interested in this match up which has severely affected the ticket sales.
International Friendlies are great for this young Red Bull team as they get the opportunity to play against high level talent without having to worry about injury. Tonight's game could be the most important of the entire season though for the organization. Since the signing of TH14, the team has received a ton of media exposure and goodwill amongst fans who have certain expectations for the season. Tonight with the attendance at maximum capacity, the eyes of the Tri-State area will be on the team's ability to play good, smart football. If they are severely embarrassed or Henry doesn't play to the best of his ability, the ticket sales will suffer for the rest of the season. The opposite is true as well, if the team comes out and competes against a very talented Tottenham squad and Henry has the game most expect, the phone lines will be ringing off the hook for with new fans wanting season tickets.
After the jump I will discuss the Red Bull starting XI and what it means for the organization going forward.
The reported starting 11 has Thierry Henry and Macoumba Kandji as the team's strikers. I like the move of Kandji up top as he's incredibly physical and has the type of build that will give most defenders fits. He was playing well prior to injury and the team needs him in the line up as a scoring threat. There's not much else to say about Thierry Henry besides I hope he performs as expected.
The midfield is the same squad we've played most of the season. Dane Richards, Joel Lindpere, Sinisa Ubiparipovic, and Seth Stammler. At this point, most of you know that I don't think much of Dane Richards. He doesn't do much to add to the team and doesn't maintain possession very well. I hope that Lindpere and Ubiparipovic are able to push the ball forward to provide scoring opportunities for Henry and Kandji.
The defense also has not changed as of late. Anchored by the play of Tim Ream and Carlos Mendes the team's defense which was once the largest concern going into the season has turned into the most consistent year to date. Rounding out the defense on the wings are Chris Albright and Danleigh Borman who have both played well this year.
In net is Bouna Coundoul, who since June has played amazingly well. He hit a rough patch in May but also has the most clean sheets of all MLS keepers this year. He needs to be in top form tonight but I think he knows that. The game against Columbus was in no way his fault and if you had to give a Man of the Match to anyone it would have been him.
So there you go, the team must have a good showing tonight and a better showing on Sunday if they want to continue the good faith they currently have from the fans and the media. Unfortunately I won't be at the game but post game review will be done by John Fischer of InLouWeTrust.com