Sometimes, the numbers can lie, particularly in a league that hands out hockey assists, but Thierry Henry’s three Saturday helpers against the visiting Crew were all legitimate: from his cut across the six-yard box for Bradley Wright-Phillips; to his lay-off for an onrushing Lloyd Sam; to his late touch to set Eric Alexander behind Columbus’s high line. Adding a goal of his own before halftime, Henry featured in all four Red Bulls goals, joining Sam as the driving forced behind the team’s 4-1 victory.
It was a reminder of what Henry can do: provide sublime playmaking in moments, even if he’s no longer capable of dominating a full 90 minutes. With Wright-Phillips’ form, Sam’s wide play, and Tim Cahill’s return from Brazil, that may be enough to help the Supporters’ Shield holders return to the postseason. Full points against the Crew certainly helped giving the Red Bulls a three-point edge on Columbus for the league’s last playoff spot.
Up to nine assists on the season, Henry’s passed Diego Valeri and Fabián Espindola for the league’s lead, reaching the nine-assist mark for the third straight season. Though his goal-scoring is down (only four in 15 games), the 36-year-old continues to adapt to the team around him. If Wright-Phillips continues scoring at his league-leading pace, Henry doesn’t need to extend beyond his playmakers’ role.
Even in that role, the former France international is capable of deciding games, and while doing so this weekend, Henry also earned our player of the week honor.