After opening the season with back-to-back losses at the hands of FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake, the New York Red Bulls have responded by rattling off consecutive victories against the Colorado Rapids and Montreal Impact. The Red Bulls' current form is thanks in part to a nine goal outpouring over the past two weeks.
New York's rejuvenation has been led by superstar Thierry Henry. The two-time European Golden Boot winner exploded for a total of five goals and two assists in the Red Bulls' victories, earning him the top spot on Major League Soccer's scoring list so far this season.
Former Red Bull and current Crew defender Carlos Mendes shared his thoughts on why he believes his former teammate is one of the world's premier players.
"(Henry) is a competitor. He doesn't like to lose," Mendes said of his former teammate. "He works everyday at practice, so his work rate is unbelievable. It's the best I've seen. He's on another level. He thinks ahead of other guys. His touch is incredible. If you give him a little bit of space, he'll punish you for it."
Mendes says Henry's competitve nature has an impact on his teammates.
"What impressed me most in playing with him is that he's a leader and a competitor," Mendes reflected. "Even at practice every day, he wants to win. That rubs off on the other players."
Henry is joined in the New York attack by offseason acquisition Kenny Cooper. Cooper sits just behind Henry on MLS's scoring leaderboard with four goals.
... ON BOTH ENDS
While the Red Bulls lead MLS with 10 goals scored in 2012, the club is tied for the third worst goals against mark. New York has allowed seven goals this season, due in large part to the process of building chemistry among the defense with newcomer Markus Holgersson and rookie goalkeeper Ryan Meara.
"They've made some mistakes that have cost them some goals," Mendes said of his former club. "As a group, they haven't been as organized as they'd like to be. Of course, New York is a great team and they can punish you in a lot of ways."
The Crew's three-headed attack of Milovan Mirosevic, Olman Vargas, and Emilio Rentería will look to force the Red Bulls into more mistakes in Saturday afternoon's matchup at Crew Stadium.
Overall, the Crew is 28-23-8 in the team's 16 year history against New York. Columbus is unbeaten in four of the last five meetings against the Red Bulls, a trend they hope to continue this weekend.
"Columbus was always a tough team to play," Mendes said of his days in New York. "Playing against Columbus the last seven or eight years, they've always been a team that's hard to break down and organize against. If you do that, you'll win games in this league.
"We'll need to bring that Saturday," Mendes finished.
The Crew kicks off against the Red Bull at 3PM EST on Saturday afternoon. The match can be found on FOX Sports Ohio and Galavision.