May 2011: Henry led Red Bulls New York to first win

Doubts surrounding Thierry Henry's motivation and reason for coming to America as he limped through the first month of the MLS season were laid to rest on Saturday when the mercurial Frenchman served as the driving force in New York’s 3-0 win against San Jose.

The Red Bulls were on a three-game winless streak and Henry had not scored since Sept. 11, 2010, but all that came to an end when he set up two early goals before netting his first goal of the season to close out the scoring.

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With a header Thierry Henry scored his first goal for Red Bulls New York this season against San Jose in the fifth MLS round. (Photo: GettyImages)


New York MLS fans had seen their share of heralded signings like Lothar Matthäus, Branco, Adolfo Valencia and Youri Djorkaeff finish out their careers by just going through the motions, so it came as no surprise that Henry was booed at times for missing several chances before slotting one home just before the final whistle to end his 684-minute scoring drought.

"I think they were getting frustrated like me. And rightfully so," Henry said. “It (the goal) didn’t really have an effect on the game but I tried everything I could do to score and I finally did.”

The passion and the quality of play Henry showed was a far cry from the lethargic and ineffective performances so far this season, and if he is to be the sort of impact player he was brought to New York for, then the Red Bulls have to once again be considered a favorite to win the league title.

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"He was different class today,” New York coach Hans Backe said. “This was his best performance so far for Red Bull, and if he can stay on this level we definitely have a player who can make a difference in this league.”

As impressive as Henry’s breakout game was, the star striker had to share the headlines with English forward Luke Rodgers, who scored the two early goals and set up Henry’s finish to win MLS Player of the Week honours.

The Portland Timbers could have been forgiven for coming out flat against FC Dallas at their new Jeld-Wen Field Sunday, just 68 hours after beating Chicago, 4-2, in their rousing home opener.

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Luke Rodgers, Red Bulls New York’s English striker, scored two goals during the 3-0 win over San Jose and was elected MLS Player of the Week. (Photo: GettyImages)

The Timbers flattened the 2010 MLS Cup finalist, 3-2, by dominating play for the first 75 minutes and then hanging on through a late, desperate Dallas rally. Both games were played before raucous sellout crowds and all remaining tickets for the rest of the season have been purchased.

In Kalif Alhassan, a native of Ghana who set up two goals against Dallas, and Colombian forward Jorge Perlaza, who notched two goals against Chicago, the Timbers have two of the most exciting new players in to league to watch.

They may not yet have established themselves as playoff contenders, but in their first few home games the Northwest expansion entries are brimming with entertainment value. Even though Vancouver played a 0-0 tie with Chivas USA Saturday at Empire Field, both the Whitecaps and Timbers have scored nine goals and conceded 10, and already taken their places among the top venues in MLS for excitement and noise.

Los Angeles Galaxy victorious without Beckham and Donovan

After Wednesday’s scoreless draw in Toronto and playing without Landon Donovan, David Beckham and Juninho, the Los Angeles Galaxy figured to struggle in the final game of a long road trip, but instead delivered one of its best games of the season in a 2-1 win against Chicago. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a Bruce Arena coached side could adapt without its top players. The Galaxy has done well when missing its best, as evidenced by last season’s strong run without Beckham, then on loan with AC Milan before being injured, and Landon Donovan, who was away on World Cup duty.

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Charlie Davies continued his remarkable recovery from his devastating car-crash injuries to earn his first start for D.C. United against Toronto FC and responded with a dynamic performance that produced another goal to help D.C. post a vital 3-0 road win. Davies notched his league-leading fifth goal from the run of play rather than the penalty spot like three of his previous goals, and his mobility was clearly a factor in unsettling a vulnerable Toronto defense.

Real Salt Lake remain the only undefeated team in the league thanks to a 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids and the Philadelphia Union remain atop the Eastern Conference standings in spite of surrendering a stoppage time equalizer to the visiting Seattle Sounders in a 1-1 draw. 

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D.C. United’s Charlie Davies heads the MLS scoring list with five goals after five rounds. He netted one for the 3-0 win in Toronto. (Photo: GettyImages)

The Columbus Crew beat Sporting Kansas City at home 1-0 to set a team mark with their fourth straight clean sheet and also equaled the club record 373 minutes without yielding a goal since the 77th minute of the season opener at D.C. United. In the league’s other Sunday game, the Houston Dynamo notched their second win of the season by handing the New England Revolution their second loss of the year in a 1-0 home win.