It was another big derby day for the New York Red Bulls as they got ready for the oldest rivalry in the history of MLS as NY Vs DC United was back in the fold and the second turn came to Red Bull Arena.
It was another near full house as the fans of this club knew that it’s not just filling up the best Soccer Stadium within the NYC tri-state area for these big games against New York City FC, but these fans will never forget hate DC Week.
But it was amazing to see on the giant jumbo trons when a certain former French striker was seen in the Provident Bank Suite level as he played four and a half years for this club and he was the splash signing to open Red Bull Arena after the World Cup in South Africa.
Former Arsenal, Barcelona, and Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry showed himself to the supporters and gave a wave, but at the same time got a huge reaction from the crowd as he watched the Red Bulls edge DC United by a final of a goal to nil.
We remember those matches that Henry played against DC United and of course the painful ones where they had that horrible playoff loss where both legs were switched up after super storm Sandy wrecked our area as RFK took the opening leg and the Red Bull hosted the second leg in 2012.
We also remember the opening playoff series back in 2014 against DC United as he assisted on the opening goal by Bradley Wright-Phillips and the second goal by Peguy Luyindula in the first leg at Red Bull Arena.
But it would be the away goal at RFK in the second leg that truly put this jinx against DC United as Henry found Luyindula again with a fantastic left footed cross. Then it would be victory inside the visiting locker room for the Red Bulls to finally break free.
But of course it would be Henry back in 2013 who finally led this club to their first trophy in the history of the club as they earned their first supporters shield earning the most points in a single MLS Season.
But the Henry effect was also huge in his return to Red Bull Arena, because once the match was over and once the emotions of battle was finally subsided, Henry was back in the home locker room to have conversations with old friends and to make new ones as well.
You saw what it meant from a fellow Frenchman in Florian Valot as he was chatting and hoping for a picture with him. You also saw a laugh and a healthy conversation with Bradley Wright-Phillips as both men were having a good time.
Meeting the new crop of players either thru the academy or those who have never met the man were now taking pictures and having conversations with him like Alejandro Romero Gamarra and many others.
And yes even I was so happy and excited that he came back to visit. The assistant clubhouse attendant Sean Ruiz made a Red Jersey that had Henry’s name and familiar #14 on the back.
I walked up to him, told him it was terrific to see him return and shook his hand. Of course I would’ve loved to have a conversation with him to discuss about if there is a different intensity between being a footballer then and now a member of a coaching staff.
But what was really amazing was to see the head coach of the other side making a trip and talking to Henry as DC United head coach Ben Olson and former DC United, MetroStars midfielder Richie Williams was also inside the Red Bulls locker room talking shop.
After it’s all said and done we all know the type of striker Henry was, all of those fantastic moments are too large to write down and discuss, but when he faced against DC United, you knew he was engaged and full on to attack when he had the ball.
But for one moment of magic, his presence was huge and you felt within the Arena as well as the locker room that Thierry Henry will always have that huge aura around him as a legend of this game and a legend of this club.