No designated player this season will be more influential in MLS’ international growth than Thierry Henry.
With David Beckham’s departure, Henry is now the preeminent soccer icon the league has to offer.
His celestial resume trumps that of any other DP. That laundry list of accolades includes five league titles, a FIFA Club World Cup and a World Cup title.
Henry has done his share of promoting the American game since his arrival in 2010.
Much like he did in his interview with Will Tidey, Henry has taken every opportunity to talk up the American game.
“It goes without saying the MLS is not at the level of the big leagues in Europe. But we have some amazing players here and some who've gone on to prove themselves abroad.”
One of those “amazing” players Henry appears to be fond of is Connor Lade. The Frenchman praised the young defender on numerous occasions last year.
“I love Connor; for me, he’s our go-to guy. He plays right, left, center, back, forward. It doesn’t matter”
Henry has been New York’s go-to guy the past two seasons, scoring 19 goals with 16 assists. He was twice named to the MLS Best XI.
Henry admitted leaving a legacy beyond an MLS Cup is essential.
“Now, don’t get me wrong. That’s the aim. But I said when I am going to retire finally, the beauty of it for me will be for instance, Connor Lade being on the National Team and one day coming up to me and saying, ‘You know what, you helped me throughout my career,’ and stuff like that. That for me would be better victory than winning the MLS.
Henry has already won in that regard. Lade received his first call up last month.
But more than prophetic aspirations are required from Henry in 2013.
MLS' signature moment last year was a Union-Jack covered David Beckham lifting the Phillip F. Anshutz Trophy. A similar moment with the most decorated DP in MLS history is ideal for a league looking to cultivate the international audience.
It is incumbent upon Henry to deliver that moment in 2013.
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