Thierry Henry and Ambroise Oyongo were New York Red Bulls teammates in 2014. They went separate ways at the end that season: Henry to retirement and a broadcasting career that served as a prelude to his present foray into coaching; Oyongo was abruptly offloaded to Montreal Impact as RBNY cleared the way for its RalfBall revolution.
Their current teams in Ligue 1 are heading in different directions too. Henry inherited a relegation battle when he took over as head coach at Monaco in October. Oyongo’s Montpellier is among the teams fighting to finish second in the league to Paris Saint-Germain this season.
The former teammates and their respective teams met in Monaco on December 1. Henry’s side took the lead through Youri Tielemans just before half-time, and appeared destined for a second consecutive league win when the score was still 1-0 to the home team with 10 minutes to play. But Montpellier rallied with an 81st-minute equalizer from Gaetan Laborde and Petar Skuletic’s match-winner in the 86th minute.
The 2-1 win boosted Montpellier to second in Ligue 1. Oyongo was subbed out in the 57th minute, so he watched his side’s comeback from the bench.
The result kept Henry and Oyongo on divergent trajectories this season. For Monaco, it meant the team stays in 19th place in the Ligue 1 table - a spot it has got quite familiar with during Henry’s brief tenure as head coach. Monaco has one win in nine games in all competitions under Henry. It will seek to break its season-long slump against fellow strugglers Amiens on Tuesday, December 4. Henry will then greet another former teammate: Patrick Vieira’s Nice plays Monaco on December 7.
Montpellier had won Ligue 1 (in 2012) more recently than it last won in Monaco (1994). A league title looks unlikely this season given PSG’s perfect start to the 2018-19 campaign, but Oyongo has settled in well to his first full season at Montpellier (he joined the club in December 2017). He is getting regular starts and contributed the opening goal to the club’s 3-0 win over Nimes.