High-level skullduggery or just happenstance re Thierry Henry?

See any limp? Thierry Henry may be in his pricey suit, but he apparently won't be in uniform Friday night as the Red Bulls visit Los Angeles in a high-profile meeting out in sunny So Cal.

You know what I always say about conspiracy theories: You get five people in a room and they can barely agree on what to have for lunch. And if they do, they certainly couldn’t keep it a secret.

So this notion that a small cabal of folks can pull the strings on an honest to goodness, old-fashioned, buttoned up conspiracy just doesn’t fly with me. Most of the time, anyway.

During Wednesday’s Revolution-FC Dallas contest, I was truly surprised at how many people pulled me aside, leaned in close and quietly said something along the lines of: you think the league is behind Thierry Henry’s mysteriously gimpy knee?

The fab Frenchman, increasingly notorious for mischievous deeds, turned up with a previously undisclosed knee injury this week. It was just days after his silly, needless punctuation mark on a goal accidentally put FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman on the shelf for a few weeks.

Honestly, it would never have crossed my mind, this notion of high-level league tinkering, if three different people hadn’t mentioned it that night. (I’m talking about people around the teams, or at least close to the game – not just folks who wear those funny No. 1 foam fingers and scream “No way!” on an offside call 120 yards away and at an impossible angle of view.)

I dismissed the first one. After all, folks do love them a good conspiracy tale. The movie and TV industry lives off it. Well, that and vampire crap.


By the second whispered mention, I had recalled an MLS coach who once told me it had been “suggested” that he withhold a player from the lineup in somewhat similar circumstances. Hmmm.

By the third one, I was peaking over my shoulder and asking myself about the plain white van parked across the street.

In all honesty, I just can’t see a reason MLS HQ would withhold Henry from this one. After all, they are treating Friday’s marquee matchup (Galaxy-Red Bulls) as the best thing since the invention of nachos, truly one of mankind’s crowning achievements.

(I write a little bit about why that is in this week’s Friday piece at SI.com. Check it out. It’s even got a smidge of a conspiratorial bent.)

Why have four DPs on the field when you could have five? Plus, MLS took a back alley beating in some circles for failing to suspend Henry – or at least fine him a consequential figure.

(I did a little arithmetic and concluded that Henry’s $2,000 fine is roughly equivalent to a $22 fine for folks making $50,000 a year. That’s not even a parking ticket in most places.)

So, if MLS officials were going to suspend him, I think they would just suspend the man and get the credit for doing so. Hell, it would even serve to send a valuable message. Players around MLS would perk up at the news and quite possibly think to themselves, “If they’ll suspend the show dog of the pack, they’ll damn sure suspend a mutt like me!”

Then again, I’ve been wrong before. Spectacularly so in a couple of instances. “What could possibly go wrong?” I asked myself five years back when I dumped everything I had into Blockbuster stock.

So, let me know if you have a different opinion on this one. 

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