Did Thierry Henry Deserve the Straight Red Card? Watch and Decide

Sean BabcockCorrespondent IIOctober 17, 2011

I'm almost positive that he's not actually drinking that.
I'm almost positive that he's not actually drinking that.Andy Marlin/Getty Images

Another match week in Major League Soccer brings with it yet another controversial officiating decision.

This time around, it is splitting American soccer fans into two evenly divided camps with very different opinions.

For the second time this season, French international star and former Arsenal and Barcelona forward, Thierry Henry, was sent off in a questionable decision by MLS referees.

In the first incident, in a June match at Portland, Henry was sent off after he and Adam Moffat appeared to be engaging in relatively civilized conversation during a stoppage of play.

After convening with the sideline officials, the referee approached Henry and held up what seemed to be the most randomly decided red card of the season.

Replays of the incident revealed Henry and Moffat discussing an on-field incident and appearing to respectfully separate to allow play to resume.

But Henry, with his arm around Moffat as they walked along, clearly tapped the Portland defender twice on the back of the head before they separated.

Critics of the call howled that the gesture was clearly respectful in nature, resembling a friendly pat on the back more than anything. Those who supported the decision insisted the tap must have been harder than it looked, citing the fact Moffat's head appears to lurch forward in the brief impact.

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In any case, both the New York and Portland players looked baffled by the violent conduct call as Thierry Henry walked to the locker room.

Over the weekend, Henry received a second controversial red card decision. One that sparked the debate over MLS officiating all over again.

The call came as the Red Bulls played against Sporting Kansas City, when Sporting midfielder Roger Espinoza was brought to the ground just after passing the ball off to a teammate to push forward.

As Henry chased the play, he tripped over Espinoza, though seemingly inadvertently. He didn't hit him all that hard, a point that fans on both sides of the argument seem to agree on.

In fact, the initial challenge that sent Espinoza to the ground in the first place seemed to be late, reckless, and far more dangerous than the one that involved the French striker.

The nature of the blow issued by Henry (intentional or not) probably played a role in the final decision, given the contact seemed to occur near the back of Espinoza's head or neck.

That could be seen as dangerous, no matter how hard the actual contact was.

Still, there was no intent, say proponents on one side of the argument. It was just a terrible, misjudged call towards one of the league's most popular stars that will only discourage talented European players from ever coming to America.

On the other side, people point out that Henry had yards of space to alter his course but didn't. He had to have been either entirely unaware of his surroundings or intentionally targeting Espinoza.

And Thierry Henry is most certainly not entirely unaware of his surroundings.

It certainly doesn't help that Espinoza knocked Henry to the ground himself just seconds prior to the incident.

No matter what the correct call should have been, the incident has been a huge talking point for days, as New York continues their battle to win an MLS playoff berth.

A battle they will now have to continue without their most prolific goal-scorer.

Should Thierry Henry have been sent off? Should he perhaps have been issued a warning instead? Or is this just another case of poor officiating ruining the game in America and discouraging European stars from taking the league seriously?

Did New York, a team desperately clinging to the league's final Wild Card playoff spot coming into the last week of the regular season, get screwed over by what some are calling the most influential "bad call" of the season?

Watch the video and make the call.