Soccer: Thierry Henry, MLS All-Star Game

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

For weeks, the New York Red Bulls have been hyping the acquisition they plan to announce when soccer's international transfer window opens today.

The worst-kept secret in MLS history: Star striker Thierry Henry is coming to the Big Apple. And if local fans seeking a glimpse of one of soccer's biggest celebrities are lucky, he'll make his MLS debut Saturday in Columbus.

Henry, the French international, helped lead his country to the World Cup title in 1998 at age 20. The following year he joined Arsenal of the English Premier League, where he became the club's all-time leading scorer with 226 goals in all competitions. He spent the past three seasons with F.C. Barcelona.

Henry's recent history has been more notorious. Last year, he helped France beat Ireland to qualify for the World Cup by knocking down the ball with his hand to set up the game-winning assist. And he was part of the French squad that scandalously flamed out of the World Cup after the group stage.

Columbus could be the first to find out whether Henry's MLS tenure goes better than David Beckham's disappointing stint.

Hometown heroes

Crew mainstays Chad Marshall and Guillermo Barros Schelotto were selected to the First XI for the MLS All-Star Game, which pits the MLS elite against England's Manchester United on July 28 at Houston's Reliant Stadium.

Although "First XI" typically refers to a starting lineup, Los Angeles Galaxy coach Bruce Arena will choose 10 more players to round out his squad, plus two picks from Commissioner Don Garber. Arena will select his starters from among that 23-man player pool.

The chances of Marshall getting benched are slim as long as the two-time MLS Defender of the Year remains healthy. He was a bubble pick for the U.S. World Cup squad and remains a formidable aerial threat on set pieces.

Schelotto, on the other hand, has had poor all-star luck in the past. Despite uniformly strong play since joining the Crew early in the 2007 season, Schelotto got snubbed in 2007 and 2008 (when he ironically went on to win league and MLS Cup MVP honors), named to the "inactive roster." He sat out with injury in 2009.

Let's hope "The Twin" gets a good chunk of time to test his skills against Man U.

Columbus Crew vs. New York Red Bulls

7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 17

Crew Stadium, North Side