Henry: MLS gets boost from Arsenal
Gunners legend and current New York Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry said opportunities like the United States' recent play at the World Cup plus a chance to see Arsenal play can help bring more fans to Major League Soccer.
"Well it's two different stories," Henry said. "I do believe that the 'burbs, the bars and the restaurants were during the World Cup that was crazy. I wasn't here for any World Cup before, but I was listening to some of my friends saying that they have never seen that before, ever in the history of any World Cup. So you know that's progressing.
"But I was saying before in the press conference, how do you get, for example, the fans that are going to come on Saturday to watch Arsenal to come back to watch us against New England?" Henry said of Arsenal's first stateside match in 25 years (Saturday, 5 pm ET, ESPN2). "That is the thing that needs to be worked on and how do you do that? You want to see a team perform, you want to see quality on the field. And that's not always easy.
"And at the World Cup, you see that at its best, so that's why you are always going to see fans at their best because the quality is at its best. When we play, the stadium is pretty full, but I'm sure it's going to be a bit more full against Arsenal and rightly so. I would pay to watch Arsenal, but that's the thing. How do you get the fans that came to see Arsenal to come and see the Red Bulls?"
Henry, who eventually became Arsenal's record scorer with 174 goals in 254 games said he sees nowhere to go but up for MLS.
"The league is only 18 years, people keep forgetting that it's a very young league. And it's difficult to fight against history," he said. Arsenal has a history, a long one. That's why you have people coming to watch the club. But having saying that in terms of fans and everything, it's like great in terms of the World Cup and everything. Now it's going to go back to normal, how do you carry on having that momentum and us the momentum of the World Cup so the MLS can take advantage of it."
Henry and his former manager Arsene Wenger, offered plenty of mutual praise in a news conference leading up to the two teams' meeting on Saturday.
"He had all the qualities you dream to have in a football player, and on top of that he was very bright and he still is, in fact. And that's why he is a legend at our club," Wenger said. Henry posted this photo of their on-field meeting on Friday.
Great to spend some time with the boss at RBA pic.twitter.com/sxHRzE5x8q- Thierry Henry (@ThierryHenry) July 25, 2014
Henry said he felt Wenger could build Arsenal back up.
"I do know that whenever you win the league unbeaten or with 5 or 6 defeats, you win the league," Henry said. "Obviously what we did was special, but I do believe he can create a team that was as special as we were. At the end of the day, like I said to you, unbeaten or not, you have to win the league no matter how you do it. But I think he has the tools to do that, and also him being him, I trust Arsene."