5:27 pm Apr. 30, 2012
The 1-0 victory by the New York Red Bulls on Saturday over the New England Revolution was a tragic one, as these things go.
Thierry Henry, their world-class striker, scored his league-leading ninth goal. The defense, which has struggled all season and suffered more than its fair share of injuries, was stout, and gave New York its first shutout of the season.
The problem is what happened to Henry shortly after his goal. In the 23rd minute, the former Arsenal and Barcelona star went down with a significant hamstring injury. The team estimates that Henry will be out three-four weeks, which is optimistic.
As a result, the Red Bulls' defense, which was just finding its feet, now needs to carry the team.
They weren't perfect on Saturday, notwithstanding the scoreline; a chip from the Revolution's Shalrie Joseph found Benny Feilhaber just a few feet from the goal, and Feilhaber's weak header is all that kept New England from tying the game at 1-1.
It's unclear, to put it lightly, whether a backline whose most experienced M.L.S. performer, Markus Holgersson, has a grand total of eight starts can perform this well consistently.
The new isn't all bad. Juan Agudelo, the prodigal striker who scored for the U.S. national team before ever scoring for the Red Bulls, is set to return to the team this week after missing about a month with a torn meniscus in his knee. A combination of Agudelo and Kenny Cooper up front is no substitute for a combination of Henry and anyone. But it's pretty good—possibly even good enough, combined with the improving defense, to get the Red Bulls through the coming Henry-less stretch with their conference standing still in decent shape.