Bradley Wright-Phillips assisted on all three Red Bulls goals. (Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
For more than five seasons, Bradley Wright-Phillips had forged a reputation as a clinical goal-scorer.
On Tuesday night, he showed his ability as a clinical goal-creator, setting up all scores in the Red Bulls’ 3-1 triumph over Tijuana at Red Bull Arena to boost the team into the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals. The Red Bulls won the quarterfinal series, 5-1.
To appreciate BWP’s achievement, he has totaled 17 assists in 140 MLS regular-season games, while finding the net 87 times.
In the first leg last week, Wright-Phillips scored both goals in a 2-0 win in Tijuana.
“I thought he had a very good game and they were always going to focus on him, to try and shut him down,” head coach Jesse Marsch said. “Then, it works out on the day where he is able to come underneath at times and able to work along the line to help set up a couple plays. So, to be honest, on the first play I was looking at him going, ‘Run! Run!’ but, you know, the timing that he set up for Amir to join in and then to make the final play was really good. Brad is an important guy around here, no doubt. So, another day where he’s very dangerous. Very dangerous.”
Wright-Phillips set up Tyler Adams’ equalizer in the 28th minute, Marc Rzatkowski’s go-ahead score in the 70th minute and Alejandro Romero Gamarra’s insurance tally in the 76th minute. In an interesting quirk, BWP probably will be awarded only two assists, according to CONCACAF scoring regulations. The confederation only awards assists for the pass or feed leading to a goal (Wright-Phillips’ pass to Michael Murillo led to Adams’ goal). Still, it doesn’t erase the Englishman’s accomplishment and performance.
Adams, whose 28th-minute goal was assisted by Wright-Phillips, just marveled at his teammate’s ability.
“Guy is a clinical goal-scorer,” he said. “I mean there’s not much to be said about it. There’s a reason he scores so many goals and how consistent he is. The guy is really clinical and a great player. Within MLS, the guy has bagged goals consistently for the past four years now. Whatever way he’s able to score, whenever the ball comes to him, the way he’s able to control in close spaces, finish from distance.”
And on Tuesday night, create some goals as well.