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Red Bulls 1, Revolution 0

Red Bulls shut off Revolution

By Darren Sands
Globe Correspondent / April 29, 2012
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HARRISON, N.J. - Revolution striker Saer Sene was 12 years old when he met Thierry Henry.

Visiting the training center at Clairefontaine in France with an uncle and a friend, the precocious Sene, whose own game was beginning to flourish, spotted his hero and flashed a huge smile. Henry, then on the top of his game and probably the world, took his No. 12 national team shirt off and handed it to the young Sene.

Their very different paths led them here Saturday afternoon: the 25-year-old Sene at something of a crossroads in a new league, and the 34-year-old Henry, the legend, on a twilight tour.

“I told him last night, ‘You gave me your shirt, and I kept it,’ ’’ said Sene, who never imagined he’d be playing in a game against his idol. “I still have it at home. I [went] to school with the shirt, I [went] to church with the shirt, I even trained in it,’’ he said laughing.

Before the Revolution’s game Saturday against the New York Red Bulls, Henry offered some words of advice: Keep playing and working hard.

Lesson 2 began in the game’s seventh minute. With a better read on a ball from Connor Lade, Henry shifted left behind Revolution defender Stephen McCarthy and freed himself to chip the ball over goalkeeper Matt Reis for the game’s lone goal in front of 18,152 at Red Bull Arena.

With the 1-0 loss the Revolution fell to 2-5. It’s the fourth time the Revolution have been shut out. New York, meanwhile, improved to 4-3-1.

“Credit a class player, winning the game and leaving in the 30th minute,’’ Revolution coach Jay Heaps said.

Henry departed with what the Red Bulls said was a strained right hamstring after scoring his MLS-leading ninth goal. If there was an indication of how much the Red Bulls will struggle without their star, it was in the Revolution’s resurgence after Thierry was helped off the pitch.

“When he goes out, you can see the void immediately because they have no one who can really stretch the defense out, run at people,’’ said Shalrie Joseph, back from a one-game suspension. “When he went out we tried to take advantage, but we couldn’t score a goal.’’

It wasn’t for a lack of trying for Sene, who seemed intent on writing a storybook ending. He provided the Revolution with perhaps their two best chances in the first half.

In the 20th minute, he orchestrated a nifty give and go with Jose Moreno, but couldn’t the ball get past rookie goalkeeper Ryan Meara.

In the 38th minute, Sene’s lefty try from almost exactly the same spot hit the post. In the 58th minute, Sene was taken down in the box after he broke free. Referee Jair Marrufo didn’t make the call that could have resulted in a penalty kick. Heaps said he was surprised no call was made.

“The way the game went, I thought there was a lot of calls . . . that the referees looked like they wanted to make and [then didn’t],’’ Heaps said.

The Revolution went into halftime feeling they still had a shot to steal the game. They owed much of that optimism to Reis (five saves), who fended off blasts from striker Kenny Cooper in the 11th and 15th minutes.

Midfielder Benny Feilhaber, who replaced Kelyn Rowe at the start of the second half, couldn’t score off a header from a cross by Lee Nguyen in the 77th minute. Feilhaber’s blast in the 88th minute went right at Meara.

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