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Mar 30, 2013

Thierry Henry scores winner for Red Bulls

HARRISON, N.J. -- The crowd began to chant Thierry Henry's name in the 76th minute after the Red Bulls' forward made a bicycle kick for a shot that was just wide.

Five minutes later, the fans weren't just cheering for Henry's skill, but for the goal that broke a tie and gave Mike Petke his victory triumph as the team's head coach, a 2-1 decision over the Philadelphia Union on Saturday before 15,824 at Red Bull Arena.

"We needed to win," said Henry, who netted his first goal of the season. "We tried to knock on the door and score a goal. Dax (McCarty) scored a great goal. To get three points from a team in our division was important."

Henry finished a beautiful feed from Pegguy Luyindula to win it for the Red Bulls (1-2-2). Heath Pearce started the play when he sent a pass forward for Luyindula, who controlled the ball at the top corner of the penalty area before chipping a pass into the middle. Henry softened the flight of the ball with his right knee before sending a left-footed shot into the goal from 10 yards.

"I played with (Luyindula) on the under-21 team," Henry said. "You will see, I hope, a lot of passes from him like that, and a lot of goals. Once he finds his rhythm and learns his teammates, he'll be better."

His left knee still sore, Henry came on for Tim Cahill in the 59th.

"I'm not 100 percent," Henry said. "That's why we agreed that I wouldn't start. The plan was to give 20 minutes and do my best."

McCarty's goal in the 55th minute snapped a scoreless string of 307 minutes for the Red Bulls and staked New York to a 1-0 lead. But Philadelphia (2-2-0) tied it in the 63d minute when Conor Casey headed in a throw-in by Sheanon Williams that beat goalkeeper Luis Robles at the near post. Conor scored 1:35 after he entered the game.

Juninho started the play that led to McCarty's goal with a corner kick. The ball bounced back to the Red Bulls midfielder, who pushed the ball to Jonathan Steele. Steele knocked the ball into the middle of the box, where McCarty ran toward it and redirected it behind him with his right foot. The shot hit the right post and bounced in past goalkeeper Zac MacMath.

"I think I have a case of little-man complex, I'm 5-8, but I think I'm 6-4 and I always want to be in the box," McCarty said. "The spin was really weird. I stuck my foot in there and we were due for a little bit of a fortunate bounce. For the past few games it felt like there was a wall behind the goalkeeper. I just tried to get my foot on it. The plan was to put it somewhere in the area and it worked. It felt good to get three points. A big weight lifted off our shoulders."

Henry fired up the crowd when he and Luyindula set up a chance in the 76th minute. Luyindula headed the ball to Henry in the box and the forward leaped up to strike a bicycle kick that sailed wide. That prompted the crowd to chant "Hen-ry! Hen-ry!"

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