Thierry Henry and 10 Highlights of the Barclays N.Y. Football Challenge
The New York Red Bulls played host to the Barclays New York Football Challenge during the final weekend of July, featuring a star studded line up of Manchester City, Sporting Clube de Portugal, Tottenham Hotspur and the Red Bull's themselves.
A total of 57,128 fans packed into Red Bull Arena during the three-day tournament and were treated to some free flowing attacking football including 12 goals and a lot of near misses that had them out of their seats.
Aside from the usual star names associated with each club, the tournament also featured a new star player making his debut - Thierry Henry with the home town New York Red Bulls.
This landmark debut, along with a host of great goals is why we introduce this list - the Top 10 highlights of the Barclays New York Football Challenge.
No. 10: Thierry Henry's Introduction To The Crowd At Red Bull Arena
Despite Carlos Mendes wearing the captain’s armband for the Red Bulls, Henry lead the team out onto the field and was introduced last to a rapturous wall of noise that could make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
The noise was not all consistent however, there were also quite a few boos sprinkled in there from the Spurs fans and a few sour faced Ireland fans still holding a grudge against him for his ‘Hand of Gaul’ which ended their run to the World Cup.
Whichever side of the fence you were on, you knew that this was a special moment.
No. 9: Jaime Valdes' Goal Against Spurs
Three minutes into the second half of a 1-1 game, Jaime Valdes received the ball in a seemingly harmless position 25 yards from goal.
But a cut move past defender Alan Hutton, a dribble to the top of the box and low shot into the far right corner saw Valdes' fine goal give Sporting a 2-1 lead.
No. 8: Robbie Keane's Goal Against Sporting
Robbie Keane helped set himself up for the Player of the Tournament trophy with this finely taken goal against Sporting.
Nico Kranjcar split the defense with a fine through ball to Keane who was still 30 yards from goal. The Irishman ran with the ball to goal before executing a fine finish from the right hand side of the box.
No. 7: Jo's Goal against the Red Bulls
Statistics show that most goals are scored when a team wins possession of the ball in the final third of the field, Man City added to that stat with a fast attacking move after the Red Bulls failed to clear their lines properly.
Man City moved the ball from a central position to wide left and a low early cross was cleverly deflected into the roof of the goal at the near post by Brazilian Jo to tie the game at 1-1.
No. 6: The Supporters
An average of 19,042 attended the three days of the tournament (a figure dragged down by the 13,586 attendance for Friday nights Sporting/Man City game), which in a 25,000 seat stadium made for a great atmosphere. This is especially true as Red Bull Arena had been designed to trap noise inside the stadium to make the atmosphere seam as loud and electric as possible.
Man City and Sporting brought fans, but they were ofter spread out around the stadium. Well done to the NY Spurs Supporters Club who took a couple of thousand spectators into the same corner of the stadium and didn't stop making noise throughout each game. It could be argued that they made more noise during the Red Bull/Man City game than the Man City fans did!
And of course, the support in the Arena's 'South Ward', where the Red Bulls supporters club's such as the Empire Supporters Club and Garden State Supporters reside, was as phenomenal as ever.
Aside from inside the stadium, thousands of fans joined in with the Arena's 'interactive zone' on the street outside. Many took up the opportunity to have their photo taken with the Premier League trophy, joined in various soccer games and activities as well as enjoying the Brazilian grill and beer garden.
All in all, the fans at these games really added to the fun and excitement of the tournament.
No. 5: Mac Kandji's Goal against Man City
Nothing looked to be happening when Dane Richards received the ball 40 yards from goal in the middle of the field. He began dribbling diagonally across the field, then picked up speed, then more speed, then beat Wayne Bridge on the outside and delivered the ball low into the box where Mac Kandji was on hand to direct the ball into the back of the net.
As the Red Bulls celebrated taking a 1-0 lead, many wondered, why doesn't Dane do that in league games?
No. 4: Matias' Goal Against Spurs
Just a few minutes after Spurs took the lead in this game, Sporting equalized, and it was a beauty!
Diogo Salomao crossed the ball from the right almost awkwardly with the outside of his left foot. Matias arrived around the penalty a spectacularly dived at the ball and sent a header into the upper left corner of the goal giving Carlo Cudicini no chance.
No. 3: Yannick Djalo's Second Goal Against Man City
Having already struck earlier in the first half with a well placed and powerful header, Yannick Djalo struck again before half time with an even better goal.
It wasn't just the finish, but more the outrageous flick behind himself by forward Carlos Saleiro from a long pass by defender Evaldo Fabiano. Djalo raced onto the flick before rounding 'keeper Joe Hart and slipping the ball into the empty net. Fantastic to watch.
No. 2: Dane Richards' Goal Against Man City
The winning goal for the Red Bulls against Man City was nothing short of spectacular.
The impressive Mac Kandji received the ball with his back to goal and used good footwork to free himself from two defenders and pass the ball across to Dane Richards who was stood on the right hand side of the penalty box, 25 yards from goal.
Dane took one touch out from his feet before unleashing a powerful shot towards the top left hand corner of the goal which smashed off the underside of the cross bar and in.
Remarkably, it was nearly identical to the only other goal Richards had scored this season, against Brazilian side Santos in the inaugural game at Red Bull Arena and at the same end of the ground.
As the Red Bulls celebrated taking a 2-1 lead, many wondered, why doesn't Dane do that in league games?
No. 1: Thierry Henry Scores On His Red Bulls Debut
He missed his chance to do this earlier in the game, but he wouldn't miss his second chance.
Beautifully orchestrated by Estonian midfielder Joel Lindpere who rounded one defender and crossed from the byline. Henry raced in to attack the ball and gracefully directed the ball inside the far post. The sort of goal that looks easy unless you've played the game and you realize how difficult it is to finish chances like that.
Red Bull Arena understandable went crazy. The script was perfect - Henry makes debut, scores goal and does it against former rivals Tottenham Hotspur.