Thierry Henry scored a goal and set up three others and Kenny Cooper had two goals and an assist to lead the New York Red Bulls to a 4-1 victory over Toronto FC on Saturday night.
“(It is the) worst season imaginable. We need the season to end so we can regroup,” said Reds defender Richard Eckersley. “We have a young group and need experience.”
Ryan Johnson scored for Toronto (5-19-7), which is winless in 11 games and remain in the league basement with 22 points. Their last win came on July 18 against the Colorado Rapids.
Red Bull improved to 15-8-8 for 53 points and pulled even with Chicago for second place in the East — five points behind Sporting Kansas City.
Despite being relegated to playing out the string, it was Toronto FC that came out the aggressors on Saturday.
Forward Quincy Amarikwa beat Red Bull goalkeeper Luis Robles with a shot that hit the far right post and deflected out of play two minutes into the game.
Four minutes later, Johnson opened the scoring with a shot that eluded Robles’ outstretched hands. Luis Silva headed Amarikwa’s nifty feed over the crossbar at the 20-minute mark.
Toronto FC coach Paul Mariner thought that the team's travel — from Los Angeles to El Salvador for a CONCACAF Champions League contest, then finally New York — did them in.
"It was a difficult travel week," Mariner said. "We just can't catch a break and it could be that they have quality players. It's probably more of the latter. He (Henry) was dominant on both sides of the ball."
Toronto could not bury its chances. Red Bull could.
New York defender Markus Holgersson equalized with a header off a Henry cornerkick in the 13th minute.
Eight minutes later, New York went ahead for good as Henry split two defenders and sprinted towards the goal. As Freddy Hall came out to challenge, Eckersley came over to cut off the angle but collided with the 'keeper, allowing Henry to feed Cooper for an empty-net goal.
“Naturally you come over as a defender,” Eckersley said. “(Henry is) a world-class player.”
The Red Bull twosome hooked up for Cooper’s second goal of the game in the 88th minute. As four Toronto defenders converged on Henry, he passed to a wide open Cooper who drilled his 16th of the season into a half-empty net.
Henry concluded his spectacular night with a goal from 30 yards in the 92nd minute.
Henry is now tied with Canadian midfielder Dwayne De Rosario of D.C. United for third in the league in assists with 12.
“The difference between the two teams was finishing,” Mariner said. “The difference were the attacking forward players. (Cooper and Henry) are super players.”
Toronto's next game is against D.C United at BMO Field on Oct. 6.
- with files from The Associated Press.