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New York's Thierry Henry makes quick impression on Galaxy

He scores in fourth minute, but Landon Donovan adds a goal late in the first half for a 1-1 tie.

May 07, 2011|By Grahame L. Jones
  • Landon Donovan scores a goal in the 41st minute to pull to a 1-1 tie with the New York Red Bulls on Saturday night at the Home Depot Center.
Landon Donovan scores a goal in the 41st minute to pull to a 1-1 tie with the… (Kelvin Kuo / US Presswire )

It took Thierry Henry a mere 217 seconds to introduce himself to Los Angeles on Saturday night.

The mercurial forward of Arsenal and Barcelona fame, not to mention France '98 and three subsequent World Cups, scored for New York 3 minutes 37 seconds into the Red Bulls' match against the Galaxy at Home Depot Center.

The goal, taken in the calmest of manners while the Galaxy defense tried to find the ball, was Henry's fourth of the season and it allowed New York (4-1-3) to earn a 1-1 tie and extend its unbeaten streak to four games.

The Galaxy, meanwhile, stands at 4-2-4 and now knows that as Western Conference leader it can play on even terms with the Eastern Conference leader.

Henry, whose $5.6-million salary is second in Major League Soccer only to David Beckham's $6.5 million a year, did not play in Southern California last season, being injured when the Red Bulls visited Carson in September.

All the same, the Galaxy knew he would be a handful to contain.

"He's a talented goal-scorer and he has been for many years," said Beckham, who counts Henry as a friend despite their long rivalry with Manchester United and Arsenal, respectively, in the English Premier League.

Certainly, Henry at 33 looked a little hungrier, a little more mobile and a little more influential than Beckham, who turned 36 last Monday.

Showing foot skills that were enjoyed by neutral onlookers but booed by Galaxy fans, Henry ghosted about the pitch, now out on the left, now up front, now coming deep from midfield.

It made him difficult to track and kept the Galaxy off balance all evening.

Of course, the Red Bulls were not exactly rock solid, and it took some superb goalkeeping by Senegalese international Bouna Coundoul and a memorable last-ditch save by defender Tim Ream to keep the scores level at 1-1 going into the locker room at halftime.

After Henry's stunning opener, off a Dane Richards pass, a shot by Galaxy forward Chad Barrett brought an excellent one-handed stop from Coundoul, diving low to his right.

The Galaxy did manage to get the ball in the net when striker Juan Pablo Angel headed past Coundoul in the 25th minute, only to have the play called back on an offside infraction. That brought a finger-wagging remonstration from the Colombian, but television replays showed it was the correct call.

There was nothing New York could do about the tying goal, however.

It came four minutes before the half ended, when Barrett made a run into the box and forced Coundoul to yield a corner kick.

Beckham swung the ball in and Landon Donovan powered home an unstoppable header for his team-high fourth goal of the season.

There was still time for a Beckham pass from midfield to spring Donovan free one on one against Coundoul. Donovan used his thigh to deflect the ball wide of the onrushing goalkeeper and then poked the ball toward the open net.

Ream, rushing desperately back, managed to hook the rolling ball off the line and clear in a heads-up piece of defending.

The second half provided fewer incidents, notably Coundoul's twin saves off an Angel header and a Beckham free kick, Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts' save off a Dwayne De Rosario shot; Juan Agudelo's header that flew just wide for New York, and Richards' shot that bounced off the left post.

grahame.jones@latimes.com

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