HARRISON, NJ - MARCH 31: Thierry Henry #14 of the New York Red Bulls is challenged by Zarek Valentin #19 of the Montreal Impact at Red Bull Arena on March 31, 2012 in Harrison, New Jersey.
(Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Ex-New York Red Bulls player, Thierry Henry, tormented the Montreal Impact when he played in the MLS. Now he’s coaching them.

Onz Chery

If there’s one team former New York Red Bulls striker, Thierry Henry, tore apart during his playing days in the MLS, that’s the Montreal Impact.

Remember that effortless bicycle kick? That was against the Impact. That sweet backheel assist to Mehdi Ballouchy? Also against the Impact. His only MLS hat trick? Again, Montreal.

Which team did Henry score the most goals against in the MLS? You guessed it, the Impact. The once Ballon d’Or nominee netted nine goals against the Canadian team in five games. He scored every time he played against them.

To add to the former striker’s load of goals versus Montreal, he also collected four assists in those games.

If you know how to break them, then you know how to fix them. After being the Impact’s living nightmare, Henry joined them as head coach on Nov. 14.

It was in New York’s first-ever match against Montreal on March 30, 2012, that he scored his lone MLS hat-trick.

“He killed us,” Montreal’s then-coach, Jesse Marsch, told CBS New York. “Every time he touched the ball he killed us.”

The match was played at the Red Bull Arena. Montreal scored the opener in the 18th minute. Henry tied it up 10 minutes later with a header from Rafael Marquez’s cross.

The teams were leveled 2-2 in the second half. Henry put his side on top for the first time ever over the Impact with a low-shot from outside the box in the 56th minute.

That was the first of three unanswered goals for RBNY. The Frenchman assisted his team’s fourth goal with a sublime backheel pass to Ballouchy. Lastly, he netted the fifth goal, tapping a rebound in the net in the 89th minute.

Henry didn’t talk much about his hat trick to reporters. His mind was rather on how his team underperformed in the first half.

“I care about what we did in the first half and how bad we played,” he said. “That’s all I care about.”

“If you are going to compete, you have to play well for 90 minutes. I know sometimes, every now and then, it’s not always easy and you can’t do it.”

Meanwhile, his teammates were amazed by his performance.

“He’s an animal. He’s literally as close to unstoppable as it comes in this league, especially the way he is playing now,” former New York player Dax McCarty said. “It seems like every time he shoots the ball, it goes in.”

Henry’s second MLS game against the Impact was an away match on July 28, 2012.

The 42-year-old noted that Montreal was a city he’s very fond of after joining their MLS team as head coach.

“To be in Quebec, in Montreal, which has an enormous multicultural heritage, it’s extraordinary. I’ve always kept an eye on the club and now I’m here,” Henry told his team’s website.

The Red Bulls’ coaching staff might want to be careful when their players visit other cities.

Back during Henry’s playing days, RBNY lost their second encounter to the Canadian side, 3-1, but the Frenchman was on the scoresheet again.

The next time the two sides met, the World Cup winner made sure his team was victorious. He netted two goals in The Metros‘ 2-1 win on May 8, 2013.

Henry’s second goal was a spectacular eventual game-winning bicycle kick.

“[The kind of goal] is not the most important thing to me,” he told MLSsoccer.com. “What I knew we had to do was score a second goal because we didn’t look like we could keep a 1-0 advantage. That’s why for me that goal is important because it was an important goal, after all, not how I scored it. I’ll go back home tonight thinking how we can play better until the end.”

Nevertheless, the perfectionist did agree that it was a voluptuous goal.

“It was a good goal, don’t get me wrong, but at the end of the day we had to score a goal,” he said.

In Henry’s following match versus the Impact, he tallied a goal and two assists to lead New York to a 4-0 victory.

On Aug. 23, 2014, the ex-F.C. Barcelona man put yet another show against Montreal. The Canadian side went up 1-0 in the 37th minute.

Henry tied the match in the 53rd minute with a magnificent diving header. After hitting the net, he nodded with an avenging look on his face before ferociously hitting his chest.

Henry put RBNY up, 2-1, in the 67th minute with a smooth shot to the far right corner from the box. Seven minutes later, he sent Bradley Wright-Phillips on goal with a well-measured ground pass in the box.

New York won the encounter, 4-2.

Hence, in total, Henry won four of his five games against the Impact, netted nine goals and collected four assists. He had one of his most exquisite goals and assists in the MLS in those games and turned in some legendary performances.

Perhaps, before or after, Henry took the decision to become Montreal’s coach, the images of his astonishing performances against them flashed in his head–his bicycle kick, his jawdropping backheel assist, his only MLS hat-trick…

The Frenchman took on a completely different role to the Impact in November, he went from being their nightmare on the pitch to their dream coach on the sideline.

Originally from Haiti, Ralph 'Onz' Chery started his writing career as a City College of New York student with The Campus. He also wrote for First Touch, the Cosmopolitan Soccer League and other local leagues. After graduating, Onz started covering the New York Red Bulls for ESNY and joined Haitian Times.