Following Sunday’s win over Manchester City to snag third place in the Barclays New York Challenge, the Red Bulls returned to the practice field after two days off, ready to prepare for Houston on Saturday night.
Training at the warm and muggy practice facility at Montclair State University was intense, with the team spending lots of time working on finishing. The shooting was rusty and during one sequence, Thierry Henry then Carl Robinson both hit the right post in nearly identical spots on consecutive shots. A few moments later, following a crossover move and then sidestepping the keeper, Danleigh Borman fired at the open net from a tight angle and hit the left post.
During the team’s small-sided game, Mac Kandji carried the same form from this past weekend that earned praised from Tottenham’s coach Harry Redknapp. Kandji was very active in practice and continues to link well with Thierry Henry.
Head coach Hans Backe was pleased with the form and fitness shown by Henry, who is now in his second full week of training with his new club. Backe said it will take “two to three weeks” for Henry to be fully fit, but he anticipates the striker starting against Houston.
Henry said he hasn’t talked with Backe yet about the plan for how many minutes he’ll play, but the Red Bulls coach said "if we’re lucky, perhaps [Henry will play] 60 minutes."
After training, Henry remarked that his legs felt “heavy” and that he didn’t know when the “form is going to come,” but he hopes to be ready to play 90 minutes against Toronto in mid-August. That fixture would represent his first home appearance for the team in league action.
Right now though, Henry said that he is pleased with where he is in terms of being match-ready, but says he must progress more.
“[I’m] trying to get fit – nowhere near fit though,” Henry said.
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