At his introductory press conference at Red Bulls Arena on Thursday, Thierry Henry hinted that more high-profile players from the European leagues may be headed to the MLS.
“I don’t want to name names, but I can tell you that some of the guys on – I know a lot of the guys who would like to come,” Henry said on the day it was announced he’d signed a 4 ½-year deal with the Red Bulls. “That means the guys are looking to the league to come and play and compete here….They see it as a competitive league.”
Plenty of notable European players have transitioned to the MLS. Most notable among the group was David Beckham, who joined the league in 2007 and plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy. The Red Bulls (previously known as the MetroStars) have also added their fair share of stars, most coming to the area toward the end of their careers. France’s Youri Djorkaeff was on the Red Bulls (then, the MetroStars) in 2005 and 2006. Italian Roberto Donadoni played for the MetroStars in 1996 and 1997 and Brazil’s Branco suited up in North Jersey in 1997.
SIMPLE SOLUTION: Henry didn't have any in-depth analysis of France's disappointing first-round exit in the World Cup. Simply put, Les Bleus didn't play well, according to the longtime national player.
There was infighting and mutiny on the French team as the players went on strike and refused to practice before their final match.
"I actually would like to know myself what went wrong," Henry said. ".... I think we didn't play well. That is the onlything that we should be talking about right now. We didn't perform. (It's) as simple as that."
Henry was a reserve on the French team. He announced his retirement from international play on Thursday morning.
ANOTHER TEAM IN NY MARKET?: MLS commissioner Don Garber has previously stated a desire to add a second team in the New York market.
Dietmar Beiersdorfer, head of Red Bull Global Soccer, doesn't have a problem with that.
"How can we say no to another team?" Beiersdorfer said. "We are not scared about this."
"The tri-state is not too small.... I think we have enough space for another team."
Portland and Vancouver will begin play in 2011 giving the league 18 total teams. The league reportedly wants to expand to 20 teams in the near future.
NEXT MOVE?: Red Bulls coach Hans Backe said the next move for the Red Bulls would be to add a high-profile midfielder able to distribute to Henry and Juan Pablo Angel.
"The next step has to be to add a midfielder, but it has to be step-by-step," Backe said.
Backe said he was looking for a "creative" midfielder to "dictate the games (and) control the other teams."
He added that it wouldn't be fiscally feasable for the team to add another high-salaried player this season.
HENRY'S SCHEDULE: Backe said Henry will practice Friday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in preparation for his first Red Bulls match against Tottenham Hotspur FC next Thursday.
Backe said he didn't feel comfortable playing Henry on Saturday at Columbus. Henry's first league match will be July 31 against Houston.
FRENCH CONNECTION: Henry said that good friend, coutryman and San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker helped convince him to play in the U.S. Fellow Frenchman Ronny Turiaf, who was dealt from Golden State to the Knicks last week, was on hand at the press conference to support Henry.