Wright-Phillips hat trick leads Red Bulls over Dynamo

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU, EMPIRE OF SOCCER

Christian Araos
Staff Writer

Bradley Wright-Phillips didn’t look like a man recovering from illness against the Houston Dynamo.

The striker’s well-documented struggles this season were cast aside — as were his previous ailments — as Wright-Phillips recorded a hat-trick to lead the New York Red Bulls to a convincing 4–0 win Wednesday night at Red Bull Arena.

Wright-Phillips, who missed training on Tuesday with flu like symptoms, combined with Thierry Henry in the buildup to all four goals, with Henry recording a goal and two assists — including the primary assist on the game’s opening goal in the 12th minute. Henry latched onto a through ball from Kosuke Kimura, ran to the byline and blasted a feed to the English striker who got a leg on the service for the goal. It was Wright-Phillips’ first goal since opening day and the first hat-trick ever scored by an Englishman in MLS.

While his recent lack of scoring cast a shadow of doubt over the striker, Wright-Phillips said he came into the game encouraged by his previous games.

“If you recall some of the other games,” Wright-Phillips said, “I’ve been getting into the right areas. Some of them, I should have been scoring, some of them, I’ve just been unlucky but today it just went in.”

Henry recorded the secondary assist for the Red Bulls’ second goal. The captain played a long, diagonal ball for Roy Miller, who was able to outmuscle Warren Creavalle, get to the byline and cutback for Wright-Phillips who made a clever run to the near post to redirect the cross. Creavalle and Corey Ashe were burned repeatedly by the Red Bulls who emphasized getting the ball out wide to catch the Dynamo full backs up the pitch.

Red Bulls Head Coach Mike Petke called tonight both a tactical and an individual win.

“We’ve been working on a lot of the stuff that we’ve seen tonight as far as our outside guys getting more centrally, our outside backs overlap to them, Thierry dropping in playing off of those midfielders and recognizing certain positions to be in,” Petke said. “But at the end of the day when the whistle blows, it doesn’t matter what I say, it all comes down to the individuals so my hat’s off to them.”

The Red Bulls nearly handed the Dynamo a lifeline seconds into the second half as Armando’s pass to Dax McCarty was intercepted by the Dynamo, but Will Bruin’s shot was stopped by Luis Robles in the most noteworthy of chances missed by Houston.

The Dynamo finished the night with nine shots off target.

New York stood firm under early second half pressure and put the game out of reach in the 65th minute as Wright-Phillips and Henry combined again with, the latter turning into the scorer this time after Wright-Phillips ran into the channel created by an overly aggressive Dynamo defense.

“I know their full backs, they like to go forward,” Wright-Phillips said. “When they go forward, we try to run there, simple as that.”

Wright-Phillips finished off his hat-trick from the penalty spot four minutes from time after Henry was brought down in the box to make it 4–0 and cap off a disastrous road trip for the Dynamo.

Houston Head Coach Dominic Kinnear downplayed the East Coast trip as being a factor to the team’s defeat — even though the Dynamo stayed on the East Coast after their scoreless draw with the Philadelphia Union last Saturday.

“You’re taking away thousands of miles of travel when you’re trying to do what’s best by the team,” Kinnear said. “It just wasn’t a good night for us. I don’t think it had anything to do with the preparation.”

The Dynamo’s winless streak is now at five games while the Red Bulls have only lost one in their last six.  New York are now in third place in the Eastern Conference. They will head to Columbus to take on the Crew this Saturday at 7:30 p.m.