HARRISON, N.J. – Thierry Henry had a goal and two assists to give the New York Red Bulls a 4-0 victory over the Montreal Impact on Saturday.
Eric Alexander, Tim Cahill and Peguy Luyindula also scored for the Red Bulls (9-7-4, 31 points), who climbed into a first-place tie with the Impact (9-5-4, 31 points) in the MLS' Eastern Conference.
Red Bulls coach Mike Petke doesn't believe that there are such things as big games in July.
"We sit on top of the conference right now and that's nice, but it means absolutely nothing," Petke said. "This is such a streaky league that anything can happen from here on. It's just the way the league is built. It's an absolute roller coaster."
But Petke added that his team played well.
"I think it's the most complete game we've played this season," Petke said. "We came out strong. Our ball movement was phenomenal. Our passing channels were great. We really stepped up the effort. But it's only one game."
Alexander scored in the 10th minute, with an assist going to Henry. Henry scored in the 16th minute, giving the Red Bulls a two-goal cushion.
"It was huge to go out strong," Petke said. "We wanted to go out there and be aggressive, put ourselves in a good situation. We wanted to be the dominant team on our home field and that's what we were. We were the better team today."
Cahill made it 3-0 with his fifth goal of the season, a header off a corner kick from Henry in the second half.
"This was the direct result of the way we played last week," Cahill said of his team's 2-0 loss to Colorado on July 4.
"We know we are a lot better than the way we played last week. This was a big game for us mentally. We were able to put that last game behind us and we did that right away."
Luyindula capped the scoring with a penalty kick in the 87th minute.
It was Luyindula's first career MLS goal.
"When you get a chance like that, you have to take your time," Luyindula said. "I didn't want to be too anxious. It was a way for us to close the right way."
The four-goal outburst ties a season high for New York. The Red Bulls also scored four goals in a 4-1 win over New England April 20.
Luis Robles made four saves for his sixth shutout of the season and his second straight at home. Montreal is winless in its past four games, going 0-2-2 during that stretch.
"We need to get collectively better," midfielder Justin Mapp said. "We have to do whatever it takes to score goals. It's been a problem of late. But we have two home games coming up and we play well at home. I think we'll be able to turn it around. This was a big game for them, a home game, and they have a lot of dangerous players who got after us."
The first few minutes were played at a tentative pace, but then the Red Bulls put the heat on and enjoyed their best first half of the season, displaying great ball movement and playing an aggressive style on defense.
The Red Bulls had the first real scoring chance of the first half, when Alexander unleashed a left-footed shot that sailed over the crossbar in the ninth minute.
Soon after, Montreal had its lone scoring opportunity of the first half, when Andres Romero's right-footed shot was stopped by Robles.
A minute later, Alexander scored one of the prettiest goals of the season. Alexander took a long pass from Henry, who then kept the ball for an astounding 45 yards from just beyond midfield into the penalty box.
Alexander eluded three Impact defenders, then hit a left-footed shot to the left corner of the net that Impact goalkeeper Troy Perkins couldn't stop. Alexander's second goal of the season put the Red Bulls ahead 1-0.
Six minutes later, it was Henry's turn as he took a nice pass from Fabian Espindola to his right foot. Henry made a touch pass to Perkins for his seventh goal of the season and New York led 2-0. Brandon Barklage also received an assist on Henry's goal.
The Red Bulls kept the pressure on.
In the 27th minute, Henry fired a left-footed shot that just sailed over the crossbar. And in the 32nd minute, Alexander pushed the ball almost the length of the field and his right-footed shot was punched aside by Perkins.
The Red Bulls led 2-0 at intermission.
Montreal picked up the pace early in the second half with two excellent scoring chances. In the 48th minute, Justin Mapp fired a shot that sailed wide right, and in the 51st minute Marco DiVaio thought he had a goal, but Robles made a diving save and Barklage cleared away the rebound.
In the 59th minute, DiVaio thought he cut the lead with a perfect header, but the goal was waved off due to an offside call.
Cahill put the game away with his fifth goal of the season, a header off a corner kick from Henry in the 63rd minute.
"I found a lot of space and got into good position," Cahill said. "When you do that, you basically get goals. We definitely did a good job keeping the ball and that led to goals. It was a solid performance all around."