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Thierry Henry will likely miss New York’s crunch clash with Seattle Sounders

Sep 25, 2013, 2:06 PM EDT

Chicago Fire v New York Red Bulls Getty Images

Both the New York Red Bulls and Seattle Sounders could clinch a playoff place on Sunday at CenturyLink.

However if New York do clinch a berth in the postseason, they will have to do it without influential striker Thierry Henry.

New York coach Mike Petke revealed in a conference call that Henry would likely be rested, as the risk in aggravating one of Henry’s long-term injuries on Seattle’s turf field is too big a gamble to take.

“It’s not something that he just doesn’t like turf,” Petke said. “He has a chronic issue with his Achilles, and if I’m being told by the doctors that it could be damaged, then it’s a situation that are you going to sacrifice or take that risk for one game, no matter what the significance is, when there’s still three more left to play in the regular season and hopefully the playoffs?”

But the big dilemma for Petke and New York is that the franchises first-ever Supporters’ Shield trophy is within sight. Is risking Henry’s health, long-term and for the 2013 playoffs, really a decision that has to be made? Of course not.

(MORE: Thierry Henry craze sweeps Twitter, here’s our favorite #Henrying)

The Red Bulls have to protect their main man, this isn’t something new. But it does make you wonder just how much difference playing on turf is to grass, especially the expensive new FIFA certified 4-G and 5-G pitches. Playing on both many teams back in the day, I really fail to see which injuries you can have on a turf field that you can’t have on grass. But I;m no expert… luckily, Petke knows a few.

“I haven’t had a direct conversation with him about it yet, but going by history it would appear that he wouldn’t be available,” Petke said. “I know it’s very easy for supporters, even media, to say, ‘It’s a huge game.’ But you have to go with the doctors and talk with the doctors.”

They are the experts, and if they say Titi isn’t ready, then obviously he shouldn’t play. Petke needs to stay firm and stick by his decision to not risk Henry, no matter if some RBNY fans get upset.

  1. djrrockthepitch - Sep 25, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    Titi needs to suck it up, grow a pair, and play. I’m over 40, have limited training, have chronically bad ankles, and no access to daily medical treatment – yet just about every game I play is on artificial turf and I seem to make it out OK. and yes – I would sacrifice the playoffs for the supporters shield.

    • talgrath - Sep 25, 2013 at 3:43 PM

      The maddening thing is this, if the Red Bulls make the playoffs (all but a certainty) and if they do well enough to win the east (unclear how likely this is) but they don’t take the Supporter’s Shield, it’s possible they could wind up playing Seattle at home on the Century Link turf. If Seattle wins this game it could very well determine the Supporter’s Shield winner, Seattle has games in hand against everyone realistically left in the shield race except for Montreal (whom they are ahead of by 5 points). So if Seattle takes the Supporter’s Shield, then wins the west and New York wins the East, this match up, on turf, happens again; what will the Red Bulls do then? The Red Bulls are using doctor recommendations as an excuse, what happens if Henry suddenly plays because it’s the MLS cup despite it being turf?

      • chadmoon1 - Sep 25, 2013 at 3:48 PM

        It is also very possible that Henry is not going to play because his injuries have flaired over the last few days. If you watched him play on Sunday against FCD, he was not moving well, was slow to the ball, and had very little impact on the game.

      • djrrockthepitch - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:15 PM

        maybe no direct impact on the game, but just by being on the field he’s a threat and creates space for others.

  2. talgrath - Sep 25, 2013 at 3:27 PM By and large, there is no science to show that turf causes more injuries in soccer. Mostly, at this time, not playing on turf comes down to player perceptions of how turf affects them. The only truly quantifiable difference between turf and grass is how it changes the bounce of the ball; but then again grass can have a lot of variance in bounce and softness and players seem to have no problem adjusting to the turf after a few minutes.

  3. chadmoon1 - Sep 25, 2013 at 3:46 PM

    Turf is much more strenuous on the legs than grass. I have refereed on turf and grass, and the ankles, knees, shins, and hips are much more strained after a game on turf than grass. Injuries don’t have to be instantaneous; they can be cumulative. If the docs say to not play, then that’s what he should do.

    While the Supporter’s Shield does get your club into the Champion’s League, it get’s you no other benefits.

  4. hildezero - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:55 PM

    You’re crazy if you would sacrifice the playoffs for the Supporter’s Shield. Supporter’s Shield just gets you a Champions League spot and a trophy.

    • djrrockthepitch - Sep 26, 2013 at 9:48 AM

      In my mind the supporters shield is more prestigious than the MLS championship. It goes to the team that has maintained the best form over the course of the entire 34 game season. The playoffs are all about the hottest team in the league.

      • lunasceiling - Sep 26, 2013 at 2:21 PM

        Agreed. The MLS Cup is basically a concession to the American sports tradition of playoffs determining the champion of a league. For soccer traditionalists (like me) a league’s true champion is the team at the top of the table at the end of the season, and something like the MLS Cup is just a tournament. A very prestigious one, no doubt, but not the “real” championship.

        Of course, if it’s the Sounders winning the Shield this year, like any true Timbers fan, I’d be willing to adjust the above preference this time. =P

  5. hildezero - Sep 26, 2013 at 2:02 PM

    That’s true, but the Supporter’s Shield doesn’t make you a champion and the MLS championship does. That’s why playoffs are viewed more important than the entire season of the league.

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