Red Bulls, Wright-Phillips Continue Goal Binge

Photograph by Matt Kremkau

Red Bulls logoHARRISON, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls avenged their April loss to Orlando  and won for fifth time in their last six league games, rallying for a 3-1 victory on Saturday night on second-half goals by Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sean Davis.

The 60th-minute tally by Phillips was his 14th of the season and marked his fourth-straight game with a goal. The surge has coincided with a run that has seen the Red Bulls (12-9-2, 38 points), one of the lowest-scoring teams in Major League Soccer in the first half of the season, outscore their opponents, 20-6, over the last six games.

Wright-Phillips’ goal came off a perfect feed from Alex Muyl, who blew two chances in front of goal in the previous five minutes.

Starting at midfield, Michael Murillo sent a short ball to Sacha Kljestan, who quickly found Davis. Davis sent Muyl sprinting down the right side, and his well-weighted ball into the box was enough for Wright-Phillips to tip past keeper Joe Bendik inside the six.

“I didn’t really have much of a sniff today, with any chances, so when I saw that break free, I just knew ‘Get in the box’, and I think got ahead of the defender,” Wright-Phillipps said. “There’s not much I had to do.”

Muyl had a left-footer in the 47th that Bendik had to dive to parry but then got a feed from Kljestan eight minutes inside the box that he looped over the goal, a chance that came three minutes before another where he popped a bounding ball high while unmarked.

“It’s pretty disappointing that I had good chances and wasn’t able to capitalize,” Muyl said. “Most important thing is that the next play you’re ready. I’m really grateful that so quickly to have an opportunity to make it right.

“It’s definitely something I’m proud of, to be able to bounce back like that. Maybe a year ago, it’s still in my head.”

Davis added his second goal of the season in the 80th, taking a throw-in, stumbling before recovering to bend a curling right-footer past Bendik from 25 yards.

“We’ve been talking about throw-ins the whole year, both offensively and defensively, and how dangerous they can be on both sides,” Davis said. “For me, I just saw some space around me. Kemar (Lawrence) had a good throw-in to me, I was able to turn, get out of some pressure, and then Jesse (Marsch) stressed at halftime to shoot.

“So that went through my mind. Bend it outside post like I practice all the time with (assistant coach) Chris Armas.”

Both sides had early opportunities but Orlando went ahead on a strike by Carlos Rivas in the 18th minute, 30 seconds after blew what was appeared to be a sure goal.

With several Red Bulls defenders diving in to break up an Orlando counter – and missing, Rivas dribbled 45 yards alone after last-man Tyler Adams fell at midfield on his attempt to intercept the ball.

But as Rivas approached New York keeper Luis Robles one-on-one, he tried to chip the Red Bulls keeper, who had come off his line, and sent the ball curling high.

It was of little consequence, since on the subsequent play, Will Johnson poked the ball away from Kljestan at the top of the defensive third. The Red Bulls fell victim to their standard tactic of high pressure with Cyle Larin pouncing on the loose ball, sending it across the top of the penalty area to Kaká, who fed a diagonal pass to Rivas.

Bradley-Wright Phillips scored the eventual game-winner for the Red Bulls

Bradley-Wright Phillips scored the eventual game-winner for the Red Bulls.

Rivas didn’t miss this time from the corner of the six, blasting a left-footer that struck the underside of the left arm of a leaning Robles and bouncing into the goal.

Orlando City (8-10-6, 30) continued to have the advantage for another five to 10 minutes, but the Red Bulls pulled even and Adams redeemed himself in the 30th.

Isolated on the left side against Donny Toia, Adams beat the Orlando fullback to the byline before whipping in a cross to the near post and Kljestan. The ball was just out of Kljestan’s reach, but a lunging Leo Pereira tipped the ball with his left foot and deflected it past his own keeper for the equalizer.

“You’re going to miss plays, it’s part of soccer,” Adams said. “Nobody ever has a perfect game. But when you get in areas to make plays, that’s when it really matters. So for me, I had a play that I knew I could make a play on and I made it.

“For me, I know when I get isolated one-on-one for the most part I can beat most people ’cause I’m pretty quick. Having that opportunity, he gave me a lot of space and I took him and whipped a cross into a dangerous area.”

Both sides were without significant regulars. Midfielder Sal Zizzo was absent for the Red Bulls for accumulated yellow cards and Orlando forward Dom Dwyer was missing after what was deemed minor surgery on his nose Thursday to fix a problem caused by an injury sustained against Atlanta on July 21.

The match ended with scuffles breaking out among groups of players twice in injury time and referee Jorge Gonzalez issuing four yellow and one red, to Kaká – after consulting the video replay review, before order was restored. Kaká and Red Bulls defender Aurelien Collin, former teammates, appeared to be engaging playfully, with Kaká placing his hands on Collin’s face — a red card offense.