March 1, 2013
MY TWO CENTS
A fan’s open letter to Thierry Henry
Vish Murthy is a long-time Red Bulls fan who lives in Princeton, N.J.
"The opinions reflected in the My Two Cents columns do not express the views of the editors or management of BigAppleSoccer. com"
By Vish Murthy
Special to BigAppleSoccer.com
As fans go, you may find me as one of your greatest admirers. You have done it all and no right-minded person can ever deny you, your place in the distinguished hall of fame among the history of football/soccer greats.
But you do remain very enigmatic to us.
You remain enigmatic to us, in the way that you have constantly defended Rafa Marquez. You have never elaborated on any of your pronouncements and never brought an understanding to us of why we must see it a different way.
As some of us humans go, we struggle on our improvement in being more civilized, and none of us really wants to go in the path of a "hate" or even towards an intense dislike; be it Rafa or anyone else. Actually, this particular fan also used to admire Rafa quite a bit, during his days at Barcelona and Monaco. This fan, also, thought of the best for him on American soil and welcomed him with open arms, thinking it would heal many a scar in the goodness from fans. As a marquee name, we wanted him to help grow the game here in the eyes of the public as well as the media, which even today attempts to put the game down as a "not made in America." The newer generations will answer to all of that.
But, as we continued to watch Rafa, something else showed up in him. While his face, the few times it was shown, remained calm and collected but non-expressive, his antics on the field brought out a suppressed chip within him out into the open, and onto his shoulder where it rightly belonged. His antics began to be more conspicuous than his game; he provided more of the non-savory than anything that we really wanted to see. And, he was bleeding us quite a bit. His salary may have looked justified to you, as you may have seen such dollar figures written all over in Europe and elsewhere, but it becomes one of consternation when there is absolutely no return. It becomes one of brimming consternation when there are so many bright faces of young hopeful players, far more productive, but who practically lived on a pittance next to him.
You have been constantly mentioning a "calming" effect that Rafa brought to everyone through his game.
Forgive me if I did not see any of that on TV or in the stands.
Forgive me if I did not find a mention of that effect in any of the papers that I read.
Forgive me if I missed any of his other Red Bull compatriots mentioning any of that.
Barring only a rare couple of scintillating passes, the rest of the time I found him questioning a referee, slipping on the turf, having the ball stripped from him, unable to catch up with anyone, and often caught wrong footed or not knowing why he could not stop the ball from getting to a goalkeeper.
Surely Rafa, with all the experience you gained with your years in Barcelona, please don’t tell us you could not "man" a defensive line as the most senior player of all. That defensive line was so porous that most of us cringed for your sake.
Thierry, as fans we do understand your friendship. We do understand also a need for that “feliz de hablar con usted en español” (happy to be talking to you in Spanish) from the days of the Barcelona locker room or from the days of French Ligue 1. But, I think, on the other hand, you have not understood why we as American fans of this global game have spoken so much about Rafa Marquez.
Rafa’s tenure with Red Bulls has all but faded from our memories. If at all we wish to idolize him, it is currently reduced to finding memories of him from his playing days with Monaco or Barcelona or Mexico.
Now, this fan needs to directly appeal to you on another matter.
You have just about done everything in your career, but all from off of this shore. Your last hurrah, however, still remains on this shore, in the USA. Your life will not be complete without that grand ride off into the sunset (yes, we have watched quite a few cowboy movies with John Wayne).
It does not matter how you do it, or what stratagem you devise, but you have to get into a secret pact with Juninho, Cahill, Fabian Espindola, Lloyd Sam, Dax McCarty or whoever, to get that ball to your feet, frequently. You have to work up at that top. Let head coach Mike Petke and assistant coach Robin Fraser live up to their salt in fixing the defense.
Pele left behind his mark in growing the game here. We remember Franz Beckenbuauer, the late Giorgio Chinaglia, Roberto Donadoni, Youri Djorkaeff and Juan Pablo Angel with equal affection. We salute all that David Beckham did for us, recently (not only did he recover every cent for MLS, but he helped earn two trophies for LA Galaxy). Now, Robbie Keane is following suit, and has already brought in the glory.
As a fan of of football, I am hoping to be able to hobble up to you, one day, and ask for your autograph. I am hoping you will leave an indelible print here that will always say in the minds of fans and in the minds of their little ones “It was Thierry Henry that brought us our first MLS Cup!”
As a fan, Thierry, I can no more adore your name than stoke that old fire of desire in you.
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