SEATTLE — Thierry Henry might lead the New York Red Bulls in goals and assists, but in Sunday’s 1-1 tie with Seattle Sounders FC, Tim Cahill once again showed the leadership qualities that make him the heart of the team.
While Henry and center back Jámison Olave stayed at home, unwilling to play on artificial turf, Cahill gutted out the comeback with his team, scoring a late equalizer in the pouring rain and gusting wind, to keep New York on top of the Major League Soccer Supporters’ Shield standings.
“Before the game, I told my players, and the manager said to the players, to have no fear,” Cahill said after the game. “I’m proud of the boys and what we achieved tonight. We were unlucky not to get the three points.”
While Henry remains very much the loner, Cahill’s team-first mentality has shown all season. The 33-year-old World Cup veteran with Australia is second behind Henry in goals and game-winning goals, and his fire and passion stand in contrast to the normally stoic Frenchman.
Even after scoring the game-tying goal in front of 39,083 fans at CenturyLink Field, Cahill quickly deflected the recognition.
“It’s pretty special, but not for me — for my team,” he said. “This is what it means to be a team. This is the feeling you should have after every game: a feeling of reward. I’m proud of the boys.”
His coach was more willing to heap on the praise.
“Tim never ceases to amaze me, with his work rate, with his attitude, with his rallying the troops,” first-year head coach Mike Petke said. “It’s just another game for Tim in a long string of games this year like this.”
As a midseason Designated Player signing in 2012, Cahill barely had a chance to get to know his teammates before they were thrown into their first playoff series together. When Kenny Cooper missed a penalty kick in the game against D.C. United that ended in New York’s elimination, Cahill — who had been playing with a partially torn calf for weeks — stepped between the media pack and a visibly shattered Cooper in the locker room.
“I don’t want him to talk,” Cahill said, taking the interview instead. “Who wants to talk after that? We’re a team. We look after each other, and this is why I’m here.”