Scoring woes continue for Bradley Wright-Phillips

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by DAVE MARTINEZ

Bradley Wright-Phillips is in quite a slump.

It is undeniable that the reigning share-holder of Major League Soccer’s single season goal scoring record is having trouble finding the back of the net. One need look no further than his performance against Sporting KC.

On a brisk Saturday evening, Wright-Phillips managed ten shots, four on goal — and he lined up a penalty shot to boot. Tim Melia overpowered his shot from the spot, putting a definitive exclamation mark on the striker’s struggles this year.

“I remember missing two penalties in a game. I’ve definitely felt like this before,” Wright-Phillips said after the match. “It’s frustrating as a striker. When you get the chances, you want to put them away. It’s just not the day, it just wasn’t the day.”

Wright-Phillips leads the team with a whopping 23 shots and 11 shots on goal. There isn’t anyone within ten shots of him in the attempts category, and he leads the shots on goals category by seven, just above Felipe.

While failing to convert opportunities is something rare for the Red Bulls’ goalscorer, missing penalty opportunities isn’t. Last season, Wright-Phillips made way for Sacha Kljestan as the team’s go-to PK taker after failing to convert the majority of his chances on the year.

Saturday night was deja-vu for the Englishman as an outstanding Melia capped his night off with an emphatic PK save.

“The keeper made some decent saves,” Wright-Phillips acknowledged. “I’m disappointed in the penalty, not the chances. I’ve got chances, I hit the target. But the penalty … [if] I’m scoring that there’s a chance we to get back in the game.

“I messed up.”

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Wright-Phillips acknowledges “feeling down”about his inability to convert. However, it wasn’t for lack of trying. In fact, the Englishman was one-shot shy of making 50% of the team’s shots.

“I feel like some decent movements, getting shots off, hitting the target, if it’s not a player blocking it, the keeper is making decent saves,” he said. “Hopefully it will come. I keep getting encouragement from the boys that it will come and hopefully it will come.”

Throughout his early season struggles, no one has been as encouraging as head coach, Jesse Marsch, who continues to believe Wright-Phillips is at the cusp of breaking this drought.

“My belief in him hasn’t — doesn’t change based on missing a penalty or missing some chances,” Marsch said. “Overall, I thought he was very dangerous, a handful for their centerbacks, and it’s incredible just that with all the good play he’s had and the good positions he’s put himself in that he hasn’t been able to put them away yet.

“But they’re going to come,” Marsch assures. “I’ve said that already in the past and I’m going to continue to say it. He’s going to score goals. That’s the player he is. We’ve seen it in training every day. We’ve seen it both of the last two seasons, so it’s only a matter of time.”


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