The Red Bulls returned to the practice field on Monday morning at Montclair State University, hoping to wash the bad taste of this past weekend’s 2-0 loss to Columbus out of their mouth. Head coach Hans Backe was without newest signing Thierry Henry on Saturday but got his first, extended look at the player during today’s training.
“He’s very strong,” Backe said. “He looked in very good shape.”
Henry participated in set-piece drills with the first team and then worked with the reserves in small-sided games. After practice concluded, Henry trained with an academy goalkeeper, working on his finishing and touch. Throughout practice, Henry was very active and seemed fit. Backe is hopeful the player will make two appearances in the Barclay’s New York Challenge, most likely starting both matches.
“It’s realistic to play [him] for 45 minutes on Thursday, Sunday,” Backe said.
Backe praised Henry for his workrate on the field in trying to get back his fitness, but he also he noticed his demeanor to his teammates. The Red Bulls head coach says that Henry is talking to the younger players and “he’s already helped young players with the small details.” Backe said that when the team arrived back at the training facility on Sunday, Henry left the bus and got changed into training clothes. Alone on the field, the Designated Player set about some personal work.
“[He was] training by himself on Sunday,” Backe said. The coach said that Henry was not present in the locker room following the match.
Backe expects to have a full complement of players for the slate of friendly games this week. New York’s coach is uncertain about the status of Salou Ibrahim for the tournament, following last week’s injury. Carlos Mendes, who sprained his ankle in Saturday’s loss, should be fine. Juan Pablo Angel is expected to be ready as well for the weekend tournament.
Mac Kandji is also expected to see a larger role this weekend after playing 45 minutes against Columbus as a second-half substitute.
“He looks okay—he did a good session today,” Backe said of Kandji.
While a much-rumored third designated player will not be available for this weekend, Backe is rather confident that the player could be signed and announced before the next league game in July.
“I am getting more and more confident we’ll get a third DP in the next week to 10 days,” Backe said.
The coach said he is hopeful the deal will be finalized before the away game to Houston.
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