HARRISON, N.J. - Thierry Henry's retirement, should it come at the end of the 2014 Major League Soccer season season, will likely not cause the Montreal Impact to shed many tears.
The French legend scored twice in less than 15 minutes against Montreal on Saturday night, leading New York Red Bulls to a 4-2 victory. Henry's two goals were his eighth and ninth in five games against the Impact. He has never played a game against Montreal in which he did not score.
"He's a legend, he's a great player," defender Wandrille Lefevre lamented. "Those great players, when the games are tough, they find a way to find goals for their team."
"Great players make a difference, I don't know," manager Frank Klopas said, trying to find a reason for Henry's dominance against his club. "Wherever he's played, he's done that to almost everyone."
The Impact - now 4-15-5 and at the bottom of the Eastern Conference table by eight points - are somewhat victims of their own success in the Canadian Championship, as CONCACAF Champions League competition made this the third game in seven days across three countries. Montreal defeated CD FAS Tuesday night in Santa Ana, El Salvador, as well as a win at home over Chicago a week ago.
Klopas refused to use that as an excuse.
"I thought we were sharp. Second half, I think Henry made a big difference, and sometimes there's nothing you can do. We had a couple of chances down 2-1, then gave up the third goal. A lot of hard work in the first half, it was the best half that we played. But it's two different halves, and Henry made a big difference for them in the second half."
Midfielder Dilly Duka, on the other hand, said he felt fatigue early.
"To be honest, after the first five minutes. Music can only pump you up so much in the locker room, then you go out there and feel your joints."
Despite the offensive outburst from New York in the second half and the club's general fatigue, Montreal headed into halftime with a 1-0 lead. Recently acquired Duka, who grew up just over 20 miles from Red Bull Arena in Montville, New Jersey and attended local Rutgers University, struck a ball just inside the left post, beating Red Bull goalkeeper Luis Robles in the 37th minute to give Montreal a lead.
The homecoming for the veteran midfielder, who had about a dozen family members and friends in the crowd, was hardly noticeable given the Impact's schedule.
"It's been a long week for us. We had a home game, we flew to Miami for a couple days, then to El Salvador, then came here. It's a long trip, I'm just glad to get back home to Montreal."
New York - now 7-7-10 and holding the last Eastern Conference playoff spot - got two goals from Henry in the 53rd and 67th minutes, then it became the Bradley Wright-Phillips show. Henry sent the MLS leading goal scorer loose on a run, and he chipped the ball past goalkeeper Evan Bush. Then he added a similar strike in the first minute of stoppage time to finish off Montreal. The goals were the English striker's 19th and 20th of the season, breaking a New York franchise record held by Juan Pablo Angel, who scored 19 in 2007.
"Another guy that showed that he can finish," said Duka. "I dont think he had that many chances, but pretty much every chance he had, he finished. He's having a great year, and he punished us."
A character moment for Montreal came when down 3-1, in the 79th minute, as Andres Romero bent a beautiful shot past Robles to make it 3-2. Despite eventually giving up Wright-Phillips' goal in injury time, the Impact found it encouraging.
"Obviously, this is something we have to be proud of," said Lefevre."It would have been easy at 3-1 to just give up, because of three games in one week, it'd be easy to think the game is over. We had a chance to tie the game until, finally, they scored that fourth goal."