Mixed Messages: Debating the Henry-Hartman incident

MLSsoccer.com's editors opine about the much-discussed play

The incident between Thierry Henry and Kevin Hartman from Thursday night has sparked conversation around the US soccer scene. Was it an accident? Did Henry deserve a caution?

The MLSsoccer.com editors share their opinions: 

It's typical of Henry to pound the ball into the net after a goal is scored. We've seen it plenty of times already. The issue is, obviously, that Hartman was behind the ball this time. I am a believer that a ref can take into account the consequences of an incident when giving a card. If Albright popped up after the Shea tackle, it would probably have been only a yellow. With Hartman forced to leave the game, I can see Henry's act deserving a yellow card. A quick, judgment call by the ref, but I can see it either way. — Jason Saghini, producer

This is a freak accident. Period. I feel terrible for Hartman that he is injured—and for his teammates and FC Dallas fans, who have lost one of their best assets. But Henry was not attempting to injure Hartman. He was simply celebrating a goal. Just as players have for decades, even centuries. Slamming the ball back into the net is a time-honored method of putting a powerful exclamation point on a joyous moment. The fact that Hartman was there at this moment was a bit of unfortunate happenstance. — Greg Lalas, editor in chief

Henry-Hartman incident

I understand that it’s his signature celebration after any teammate scores, and I am typically all for enthusiastic showings following a goal, but in this case it was completely unnecessary. With the opposing goalkeeper just over the ball, Henry should have shown more common sense than to kick at the ball—and his opponent at the same time. The second yellow should have been shown simply for the bone-headed nature of Henry’s decision. — Dan Haiek, producer

Whether it’s delay of game or unsportsmanlike conduct, Henry should have received a yellow. Hartman’s injury only helped draw attention to a goal “celebration” which refs should uproot from the game. Violently kicking the ball anywhere after a goal is scored should be an automatic booking. If you can’t touch the corner flag to celebrate, you shouldn’t touch the ball. — Simon Borg, content producer

Had Hartman not been injured, we wouldn’t be talking about this today. Henry simply booting the ball into the net following a goal would not, generally, be punished with a card of any color. However, it was reckless on Henry’s behalf, and I find it hard to believe the match officials didn’t think this warranted a caution. Perhaps Henry’s previous card influenced the referee’s decision to not punish him. Either way, the end result is tragic for Dallas, especially if Hartman’s out for any length of time. — David Agrell, new media editor