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Henry toys with Toronto FC’s back four

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You couldn’t blame Toronto FC fans if they were spending more time poring over NCAA prospects rather than watch their team lose yet another league game.

After all, the Reds lost yet again Saturday, a 4-1 decision at the New York Red Bulls that cemented TFC’s position at the bottom of the MLS overall standings. That means, with every loss, the Reds get closer to the only real prize that has been available to this team since the early summer — the first pick in the 2013 SuperDraft.

Kenny Cooper — who has been a TFC slayer no matter what uniform he wears — scored twice. But his goals were both on open nets thanks to assists from Thierry Henry. The French striker assisted on three goals and scored late in the match with an audacious chip.

For long-suffering fans, it was a case of same old, same old. TFC couldn’t match the effort or the talent of the opposition.

And, Henry simply made TFC’s ragged defence his own personal playground. Henry has made some of the top defenders in the world look silly in his star-studded career. Against a defence as suspect as the Reds? Well, it looked like a pick-up game at times.

After TFC enjoyed a bright start, with Quincy Amarikwa seeing his effort hit the post in the second minute, and then Ryan Johnson scoring on a left-footed 25-yard laser beam in the sixth, Henry simply took over the match. And, instead of celebrating Johnson’s highlight-reel opening goal, we will be talking about how easily the thirtysomething Henry toyed with TFC central defenders Richard Eckersley and Darren O’Dea.

Seven minutes after Johnson gave the Reds the surprise lead at Red Bull Arena, Henry delivered a dangerous corner that was headed home by Markus Holgersson. Midway through the half, Henry led a two-on-one charge and Eckersley, who was backing in, ran into goalkeeper Freddy Hall. Henry slotted over to Cooper for the easy goal.

In the second half, Henry was surrounded by TFC defenders in the area. But he lifted the ball into space by a flat-footed O’Dea. And, with no other defender willing to take on Henry, he slotted the ball over to Cooper for the goal.

Henry finished the game with aplomb, chipping a goal over Hall from 25 yards, offering his counter to Johnson’s Goal of the Week candidate.

It was a loose match, a wide open game that allowed the offensive talents of Henry and Cooper too much time and space to do damage. And it was a clear illustration of just how much TFC needs to improve, talent-wise, to compete with the better teams in MLS.

At least the Reds will be closer to that top pick.

Toronto FC’s last MLS win came on July 18, a 2-1 triumph over Colorado. The New York loss marks the club’s 11th league match without a win.

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