There's a line from Casablanca that I thought of when I saw the New York Red Bulls relegate striker Juan Pablo Angel to the bench.
After Rick tosses aside Yvonne, Captain Renault admonishes him, saying "How extravagant you are, throwing away women like that. Someday they may be scarce."
And so it is with the New York Red Bulls and strikers. The great irony when Thierry Henry signed with the Red Bulls back in July is that he represented something RBNY already had in abundance- finishing talent.
Consider that despite his benching last Thursday against FC Dallas, along with sharing the ball with Henry for much of the year, Angel is still second in all of MLS with 12 goals scored. Henry, meanwhile, has just two in seven games for New York.
Since coming to America, Henry has missed time with several injuries; a knee ailment will keep him out of the showdown with the Galaxy Friday night, leaving New York to rely on Angel up top.
But the lingering question no one wants to consider is this: could Henry be breaking down? Consider that he missed much of Barcelona's season due to injury, and was largely ineffective when on the field.
Now let me be clear: I think it would be utterly foolish to draw any conclusions about Henry after seven games. Alas, that goes both ways. Once can't assume he has ceased to be an effective player, and when on the pitch, he's been a constant threat. The two goals doesn't come close to measuring his impact, both in setting up his teammates and forcing defenses to account for him first.
But it would be equally foolish to be certain that Henry is still capable of staying healthy for long stretches of time.
That, naturally, is where Angel comes in. Here is a player capable of finishing as well as anyone in the league, and it is difficult to imagine a scenario where he would fail to be helpful, both in the stretch run and the playoffs. Furthermore, with Macoumba Kandji dealt for the attacking midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy, the striker options for RBNY are rather limited.
Exactly how to make room for both Angel and Henry is for another time. But RBNY would be wise not to wait for that piece to make this the beginning of a beautiful partnership.