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MLS: Eastern Conference Preview

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TUCSON, AZ - FEBRUARY 16: Thierry Henry #14 of the New York Red Bulls points on the field while playing against the New England Revolution in the first half during FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup at Kino Sports Complex on February 16, 2013 in Tucson, Arizona
TUCSON, AZ - FEBRUARY 16: Thierry Henry #14 of the New York Red Bulls points on the field while playing against the New England Revolution in the first half during FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup at Kino Sports Complex on February 16, 2013 in Tucson, Arizona

Overview: It’s been said and written far too many times, but it’s worth repeating: New York remains the only one of MLS’ original teams never to win the MLS Cup. Much was expected of the team last season, but off-field debacles and questionable coaching decisions ensured that the Red Bulls failed to deliver once again. New York enters the season as a potential contender, but the club has done little to squash the distractions that derailed the team. In fact, the opposite may be true. Front office squabbling, and a protracted coaching search, ensures that if anything, the Red Bulls will deliver plenty of drama. The hope is that the likes of Henry, Cahill, and Juninho Pernambucano have the quality to overcome any adversity.

Key Player: Arguably the best player in the league, Thierry Henry will be the team’s most important player, on and off the field. Last season’s MVP finalist set MLS career highs in goals and assists without a true creative midfielder behind him. Juninho’s arrival means that Henry might be able to do less while producing more. The biggest concern is whether the Frenchman will be able to coexist with Mike Petke is things start going south.