Bradley Wright-Phillips: “It’s always nice to score a goal, but it’s definitely not on my mind in preseason.” (Photo courtesy of MLS)
TUCSON, Ariz. — At this juncture, it is not necessarily finding the back of the net.
For Bradley Wright-Phillips, it’s about fitness, his and his team’s as the Red Bulls put in their final preparations for next week’s CONCACAF Champions League match against Olimpia in Costa Rica.
“I don’t really look for goals in the preseason, I look for fitness,” said the striker, who scored New York’s lone goal in its 1-1 preseason draw with Sporting Kansas City Wednesday night. “I think once you’re fit, the goals will come. It’s always nice to score a goal, but it’s definitely not on my mind in preseason.”
BWP isn’t convinced the Red Bulls are near full fitness. They will face their Honduran foes in the first leg of the Round of 16 series at Estadio Nacional in San Jose, Costa Rica Thursday, Feb. 22.
“First of all, it’s recovering after today’s game and then we train right,” Wright-Phillips said. “We have to get a few hard sessions in but you know we have to slow it down as we start nearing the game. I think we still need some hard sessions though, because it’s going to be difficult over there and we need to be even fitter.”
Head coach Jesse Marsch pushed his team as much as he could, as 10 of the 11 starters played the full 90 minutes and stoppage time, except for midfielder midfielder Marc Rzatkowski, who went 75 minutes.
“Yeah, it was good to get 90 minutes under your belt,” Wright-Phillips said. “I think we needed it. Obviously with a game coming up, we needed the 90 minutes. The guys pushed through. The first half wasn’t too great, I didn’t think we were too organized. We got to work in the second half and looked a bit better aside from conceding a goal.”
The Red Bulls play a 4-2-3-1 formation with Wright-Phillips as the lone man up front. It was the first time the side used that setup in the preseason and New York struggled in the opening half.
“We hadn’t done it for a minute,” Wright-Phillips said. “It was a bit hard to get to grips with, and the personnel. … We had a talk at halftime and I think we had a little more understanding. It just shows with the players we’ve got, and the kind of formations we can play with the players. I think all players and it showed tonight.”