Just for a minute there, it looked like 2002 all over again.
Thierry Henry was running the left channel Saturday at Red Bull Arena in bouncing ways that were surely evocative of his finest years at Highbury, the former grounds of Arsenal, where King Thierry once ruled so majestically.
Henry really was all that Saturday against Toronto FC as the Red Bulls asserted themselves with a 4-1 win over the beleaguered Canadians.
He connected wonderfully with Red Bulls strike partner Kenny Cooper. (Who seemed for all the world to have been given a strict directive: “Shoot if you’re close, otherwise pass immediately to Henry!” It worked wonderfully.)
Henry found great spots on the field, his passing was accurate and he even took on the occasional TFC defender.
Yes, Toronto FC is barely a credible MLS opponent right now. No offense to the team, because the effort is there. But a roster that’s so poorly assembled to begin with, and then cracked to the core through injury, is one that’s ripe for plucking. Which Henry did with veteran aplomb.
That said, a goal and three assists is still a goal and three assists. And what inspiring moments they were.
His second assist, on Kenny Cooper’s second goal, was absolutely world class. You have to watch close to see Henry glance quick as a fox over his left shoulder, spotting his onrushing strike partner and then laying the ball into place perfectly.
Clearly, the man still sees passes so many attackers would miss.
Finally, the long-range looping beauty over TFC’s stranded ‘keeper, No. 4 for his team, was struck with the nonchalant assurance that only comes from someone with Henry’s illustrious CV.
Watch all the highlights here and marvel and what may well be the top performance of MLS Round 30.