Well, he’s here now.
Thierry Henry, one of the biggest names in the sport, will forego the famed Barcelona kit for one emblazoned with two bulls. Now a New York Red Bulls player, one of the world’s most feared strikers will be terrorizing MLS backlines with his pace and finishing. This franchise, and perhaps this league, might never be the same again.
Four things to take away from Henry’s signing:
1. This isn’t a promotional ploy for a brand – Henry is a player who is concerned about doing something special on the field and making a connection with the American public, not someone who hopes to star in movies or sell posters of himself. It is clear that the former World Cup winner wants to win the hearts and minds of the American public for the sake of the sport, viewing himself as an ambassador of the global game.
“I came to play football,” Henry said.
2. Bigger than Beckham? – Yes, David Beckham was and is the biggest name in world soccer, but Henry is a different type of a player. Here is someone who has not only won in the Champions League, Premier League and La Liga, he has also hoisted the World Cup trophy. Henry is respected as a player who scores goals of all varieties and adds assists, too (somewhere, an Irish fan is grimacing). He’s a difference-maker on the field who is elite and truly world-class. Henry has built himself and his reputation on the field as someone capable of brilliance.
3. Bigger than Pele? – Yes, it might be ludicrous to say, but the signing of Henry might be bigger than when Pele signed with the Cosmos in 1975. The Brazilian’s inking a deal with the old NASL forever changed the sport in this country – Pele layed the foundation for the sport’s growth in this country. What Pele founded, Henry is now putting the roof on – finishing the work that was started more than three decades ago. Henry elevates this sport - he justifies it with his presence.
4. Angel gets his wings – Well, the saying goes that “Red Bull gives you wings,” but for Juan Pablo Angel, he literally got his wings on Thursday. The original New York Designated Player has been through three coaches during his time here with the Red Bulls and finally has a strike partner who can compliment him. After all the knocks and the pressure of having to carry this team for so many years, Angel has the help he needs.
“I’ll always admire him as a player,” Henry said of Angel. “He’s a great goal scorer.”
Kristian Dyer is a reporter for MLSSoccer.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs. He can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012