LA Galaxy striker Gyasi Zardes is excited to take on his idol Thierry Henry in Sunday’s eagerly-anticipated MLS matchup at home to the New York Red Bulls.
Zardes, 23, is the leading American scorer in the league so far this term with 15 goals in 27 games, following a debut campaign which saw him net just 4 times in 27 appearances, his breakout season seeing him tipped for a first senior national team call-up next month.
Signed to a Homegrown contract out of college in December 2012, the CSU Bakersfield product featured as a substitute against Henry in a 1-0 defeat for the Galaxy during his rookie campaign but, with the Arsenal legend contemplating retirement when his contract expires at the end of the season, he realises that this be the last chance he has to face the man he grew up emulating.
‘He’s a phenomenal striker and he’s definitely a guy that I looked up to. It’ll be great to play against him.
‘They’re a great attacking squad that is full of dangerous players who are very talented. I expect them to come out and try to play,’ he added. ‘We’re both great teams and it’ll be a great game.’
Henry himself has enjoyed arguably his best season since arriving in MLS from Barcelona in July 2010, with the Frenchman recording nine goals and 13 assists in 26 appearances to put his name in MVP consideration.
Unlike their weekend opponents, however, the Red Bulls are far from guaranteed a post-season spot at present, with Mike Petke’s side sitting in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with five regular-season matches left, despite their star skipper’s performances.
With a player of Henry’s calibre on their side, as well as league top-scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips, the club are certainly capable of contending for a first-ever MLS Cup should they make the play-offs, but the match against Zardes and LA will prove a big test of their credentials ahead of the crucial final run-in.