Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Major League Strangeness

One of the latest high-profile players to jump ship to the ranks of North American pro soccer finds himself in a bit of trouble this week.

Former Barcelona striker and French international Thierry Henry was involved in a bizarre incident last Thursday that landed him a $2,000 fine (but not a suspension – see below) and left the opposing goalie with an MCL strain.

After Mehdi Ballouchy scored a first half injury time goal for the NY Red Bulls to tie their game with FC Dallas at 1-1 (it ended 2-2), Henry ran up to the discarded ball and went to give it a swift kick into the onion bag, a sort of punctuation of sorts heading into half time.

That’s something you see quite often – a player scores, and immediately someone nearby gives the ball another kick into the net. In this case though, Henry seems to be a little delayed in his reaction and gets to the ball just as Dallas goalie Kevin Hartman is walking up to it.

So, not only does the ball wind up heading far from the intended target, but he also gives Hartman’s foot a little kick which I guess twisted his knee up a bit.

It’s one of those “what was he thinking” type of moments, where a player does something innocent but seemingly irrational and ends up looking like a total goof. To make things worse, because it’s such a strange play and because it’s soccer, you’ll watch the video and wonder how much Hartman is exaggerating.

As you’ll see below, it’s just “one of those stupid things” that ends with a freak injury:

For the record, Hartman's agent is furious over the fact that Henry escaped suspension, saying on Monday that the MLS disciplinary committee should be embarrassed and ashamed.

He’s probably got a point there, given the wording of the MLS press release on the matter that says Hartman “stepped into the path of the ball and suffered a knee injury” – when Henry clearly walks up and nails it well after the play is over.

Do you think his lack of a suspension could have something to do with the fact that Henry, Rafa Marquez and Juan Pablo Angel are getting set to face the LA Galaxy on Friday, with the likes of David Beckham and Landon Donovan in the lineup?

That’s right, there are 14 “Designated Players” in the MLS, and five of them (including the four highest paid players in the league) will be suiting up when New York faces LA. Oh did I mention, as the NY Times soccer blog points out, that the game is being broadcast across the US and is the top story on the MLS website?

For all the armadillo-helmet wearing MLS conspiracy theorists, I won’t even both mentioning that Henry was already on a yellow and, had he been shown another, would have automatically missed Friday’s game. No, I won’t even bother mentioning that.

At the end of the day, does issuing a $2,000 fine to a multi-millionaire teach anyone a lesson?

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