Bruce Arena: Thierry Henry obtains a “very good mark” for the first year with the Montreal Impact

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As New England Revolution head coach and athletic director Bruce Arena prepares for their preliminary round game Friday night at Gillette Stadium (6:30 p.m. ET | TV and streaming info), it’s clear that he holds Montreal Impact head coach Thierry Henry in high regard.Henry, who played from 2010 to 2014 with the New York Red Bulls, brought Montreal back to the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, ending a three-year absence, in his first season at the helm. This is Henry’s second stint in management after only 20 games in charge of AS Monaco in Ligue 1.

Accomplishing this during the COVID-19 pandemic is laudable in itself, Arena believes.

“One thing that I think has been difficult for Thierry, as well as for people like me and all the other coaches in the league, is dealing with your players during the pandemic,” Arena said on Wednesday during a virtual press conference. “This was amplified in the case of Montreal as they had to leave their homes and settle in New Jersey. It’s extremely difficult, and the fact that Thierry managed to get his team through and advance to the playoffs is remarkable. I would say he gets a really good mark in terms of club leadership in a very difficult year.

As Arena pointed out, Montreal – seeded number 9 in the Eastern Conference – closed the year with home games at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. A hotel lifestyle during COVID-19 has replaced the comforts of home and competition at Stade Saputo or at the Olympic Stadium, as it did earlier in the 2020 season.

The Impact overcame these difficulties, needing a victory against DC United on the decision day presented by AT&T to secure its place in the playoffs. Throughout, Arena saw a team that were adamant about playing on the pitch, with Henry’s playing days reflected in their approach.

“He was pretty determined that he wanted his team to play and they build off the pressure and they’ve been pretty consistent with that,” Arena said. “It’s not easy to do in a first year with a team, so I give him a lot of credit for it.”

When New England and Montreal meet, it will be their fifth game against each other this season. The Revs so far hold a record of 3W-1L-0D, and Arena has been asked if there is an emerging rivalry between the two clubs.

With his dry humor, Arena expressed hope that any competition between him and the former Ballon d’Or finalist who won the 1998 FIFA World Cup, alongside trophies with Arsenal (England) and FC Barcelona (Spain), would not involve the two coaches. take the field

“I don’t know about that,” Arena joked. “I don’t want to have a rivalry against Thierry Henry. Thank god we are not playing against each other, Thierry and I, I hope not.

Jokes aside, Arena believes Henry’s success in his playing career will only benefit Montreal on Friday. There’s a difference between doing it yourself and positioning a starting XI (and subs), of course, but Arena knows Henry keeps his players high.

“He knows how to step up in big games as a player for sure, and I imagine he’s going to be able to pass that information and that confidence on to his players,” Arena said. “I think he had a wonderful season the first year and I think we’re going to have our hands full on Friday. “



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