MATCH PREVIEW: Red Bulls vs. Arsenal
HARRISON, NJ (July 25, 2014) – Tomorrow afternoon at Red Bull Arena will be the first time Arsenal FC has played a match in the United States since 1989. It will also be the second time the New York Red Bulls and Arsenal’s all-time leading scorer Thierry Henry have played the Gunners, after the two sides met in the 2011 Emirates Cup, a 1-1 draw, that the Red Bulls ultimately won. The arena is expecting a sellout crowd for another first: the inaugural ‘New York Cup’.
When the game kicks off at 5 p.m., it will be the first time that the 2014 FA Cup champions have played on American soil since a 1989 friendly in Miami against Argentina’s Independiente. It will also be the first-ever match played in the New York area for a club with one of the world’s largest fanbases.
“It’s going to be a great night,” head coach Mike Petke said at Thursday’s press conference, “It’s phenomenal for the club, the organization, for the players, the league as a whole to have a club like Arsenal, one of the best clubs in history, in the world, coming here and playing against us.”
Front and center in the spotlight will be former Arsenal striker, Thierry Henry, the all-time club leader in goals scored with 228 across all competitions. The Frenchman helped Arsenal win two Premiership titles and three FA Cups while winning the PFA Player of the Year twice, and now has a bronze statue outside the Emirates Stadium as well. Henry joined Arsenal from Juventus in 1999 and played with the North London club for eight seasons before moving to Barcelona in 2007. In the winter of 2011-12 during the MLS offseason, Henry returned to Arsenal for a seven-match loan.
Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has announced his 20-man squad for the friendly, a team that features only two of its’ 13 players that featured at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, England’s Jack Wilshere and Spain’s Santi Cazorla, but a number of other first team regulars and exciting young prospects, including German-American forward Gedion Zelalem.
“Everybody knows him. Quality, good on the ball, great vision. Everybody’s talking about him,” said Henry of the 18-year-old at the press conference, “It’s not an easy place to break into the first squad, at Arsenal, but he has showed he has the quality and the right boss to make sure he can do it.”
“The enthusiasm about soccer in the States is new but big. I expect us to have a good crowd there,” said Wenger ahead of this weekend’s match, “It is the perfect time to go. I always wanted to go with Arsenal to the United States, so I'm personally very happy to do it.”
The match will be broadcast live nationally on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.