The storyline was written long before the whistle blew starting Saturday night’s match between Houston and New York.
The hype and huge crowd at Robertson Stadium inevitably surrounded Thierry Henry, who made his long-awaited MLS debut against the Dynamo after a storied career of winning matches in the English Premier League, La Liga and – most famously – the World Cup.
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New York, however, failed to capitalize on both Henry’s stellar debut and a one-man advantage for the entire second half in a 2-2 draw that soured Henry’s debut.
“I think we should have won the game,” assistant coach Richie Williams told MLSsoccer.com. “We left points out there.”
The new strike partnership between Henry and Juan Pablo Angel, though, paid dividends almost immediately.
In the 9th minute, Henry created space down the left flank with some magic, turning around defender Adrian Serioux and heading towards the touchline. Sending in a cross with his left foot, Henry’s cross fell to Ángel inside the 6-yard box. Angel made no mistake about it, powering a shot into the back of the net to christen the league’s most dynamic strike partnership.
“The result was a bit bad for us because of the late goal,” Henry said. “I think I played well with Juan Pablo.”
That was the understatement of the night. The two hooked up again in the 58th minute, with Henry feeding Ángel into space on the transition. The Colombian striker blasted a shot past Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall for his team-high 11th goal of the season, then embraced his new striker partner in celebration.
Still, Henry had a series of chances for his first goal in league play. His best opportunity came in the 42nd minute, when Ángel sprung Henry in alone on Hall, but Henry pushed his shot wide of goal.
“He played well,” Williams said. "He didn’t score, but he created chances."
Henry had a quiet second half as he appeared to struggle in the latter stages with his fitness. On Friday, head coach Hans Backe said that thought the player would be on the field for 45 minutes, but Henry ended up playing the full match.
“As the game went on, he felt fine,” Williams said. "When he went back out there in the second half, we told him to let us know if he needed to come out."
Much to the delight of the fans who came to see him and those who waited nearly two years to see his debut, however, Henry never came off the field.
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