Wright-Phillips’ Late Magic Saves Red Bulls

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

By ANTHONY J. MERCED

Red Bulls logoBradley Wright-Phillips was silent for 87 minutes against the Philadelphia Union on Sunday afternoon, but his two goals before the final whistle could end up changing the course of the Red Bulls’ season.

The win ended the team’s second-longest road losing streak and ended a five-game goal drought away from Red Bull Arena that stretched more than 500 minutes.

Despite the strong ending, there were worrisome signs for New York (7-7-2, 23 points) throughout the game. On offense, Wright-Phillips gets few clean opportunities and Sacha Kljestan has not been the dynamic playmaker he’s been the previous two seasons. Halfway through the game, Coach Jesse Marsch went to his bench, replacing left back Aaron Long with Kemar Lawrence, who has been ill. The Jamaica international provided the width the team had been missing in the first 45 minutes. He also, freed up space for Wright-Phillips.

While the Union (4-7-4, 16) was reduced to 10 men with about 35 minutes to play, it seemed as if the game would go to a draw. But it was Lawrence’s low pass into the box that found Wright-Phillips for the game-winning strike. The goal, followed soon after by another from Wright-Phillips off a cross from Sal Zizzo, ended a six-game losing streak away from Red Bull Arena.

The two efforts give Wright-Phillips eight goals this season, five behind Golden Boot leader Nemanja Nikolic of Chicago and two behind crosstown rival David Villa. The Red Bulls and NYCFC will play Saturday afternoon on the first Hudson River Derby of the 2017 MLS season. The Red Bulls ousted NYCFC from the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup last week.