Thierry Henry is slated to make his Red Bull Arena league debut Wednesday when New York takes on Toronto FC in a battle for second place in the Eastern Conference.
Rafa Marquez, whose ability to dictate play in midfield was on display in his first Major League Soccer appearance Sunday in a 0-0 draw at Chicago, is away with Mexico's national team. What about Henry, probably the finest talent ever to play in the league, who departed Sunday's game just before halftime with a groin strain?
“Henry can play,” Red Bulls coach Hans Backe said following training Tuesday. “It’s just tight muscles, like a cramp.”
Toronto FC with a victory can overtake New York for the No. 2 spot in the East.
The Red Bulls also will be home Saturday against the Galaxy, a match that has been sold out since July 27.
Wednesday's slate (all times PDT):
Toronto FC (7-6-5, 26 points) at New York Red Bulls (8-6-4, 28 points), Red Bull Arena (Harrison, N.J.), 4:30 p.m., MLS Direct Kick
So much has been made of Henry's and Marquez's arrivals, and especially of how Henry ought to make Juan Pablo Angel, already the league's best pure striker, so much more deadly, that the Red Bulls' run of poor results has been forgotten. They've gone six competitive matches without a victory and have won just once, against then-struggling Kansas City, since the World Cup break ended. Toronto FC, which has Dwayne De Rosario in superb form and former UCLA striker Chad Barrett finishing regularly, has lost just twice in its last 17 competitive games -- in its last two MLS road games, at Philadelphia and Kansas City.
Real Salt Lake (10-4-5, 35 points) at Philadelphia Independence (4-9-3, 15 points), PPL Park (Chester, Pa.), 4:30 p.m., MLS Direct Kick
Philly has lost just once at PPL Park, a 2-1 decision Thursday against Columbus, which was followed with a loss Sunday at FC Dallas -- two of MLS's better teams -- with rookie sensation Danny Mwanga missing with a groin injury. He might be back for this one, the first of two home games in four days. RSL has lost just once in its past 14 league games, since April 24, but that masks trouble up front. Throw out the 5-0 romp July 2 over New England (in which the Revs hit bottom) and the 3-0 rout July 31 of league-worst D.C. United, and the Utahns have only four goals in seven MLS games. Alvaro Saborio is off with Costa Rica's national team, and Robbie Findley saw action in the U.S. loss Tuesday to Brazil.