Bradley Wright-Phillips has scored 10 goals in nine Hudson River Derby matches. (Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
On paper, the City Football Group is the owner of New York City FC.
But on the soccer pitch, we all know who truly owns NYCFC: Bradley Wright-Phillips.
After all, how can you dispute the Red Bulls striker scoring 10 goals in nine Hudson River Derby matches since 2015?
The ever-humble BWP admitted “I don’t really know.”
“The derby, it’s been good to me,” he told reporters after training at the Red Bull Training Facility in Hanover, N.J. Thursday. “It’s kind of hard to answer. It’s gone well for me. I enjoy playing in the game. I don’t put any more effort than I do in another game. It’s just been like that.”
The English striker has recorded four braces against NYCFC.
“What’s so amazing about Brad is he’s no secret,” Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch said. “Every game that we play, a team has a defensive scheme and emphasis of trying to take care of him and yet he scores all the time. I’m sure they will want to be hard on him and physical on him, but the key is for the rest of the team to be really clear, tactically sharp and good on moments of transition, because the more that we have weapons and other weapons it means that Brad will be open more as well.”
In one of the most exciting derby matches, BWP and NYCFC striker David Villa dueled with the latter registering his first MLS hat-trick in a 3-2 City win at Yankee Stadium Aug. 6, 2017. Wright-Phillips had both Red Bulls’ scores.
Villa, who has come back from a calf injury, tallied his 400th career goal in NYCFC’s 3-1 home win over FC Dallas Sunday. The Spanish international has four goals this season.
Wright-Phillips has transformed his game this season, accruing five goals and four assists in seven MLS matches. He is tied for third in goals and fourth in assists. In fact, he is three assists shy of his career-best mark of seven in 2015.
“They both rather win than score, there is no doubt,” Marsch said. “One of the things that makes them special is it is not just the goal scoring its all the work they do to be real leaders for their team and to set the example. When you have your best player, your top striker, your superstar that is willing to do all the work that is the most humble that is the most committed to the team, my God does it make it easy for the head coach. In that sense, both myself and [Patrick] Vieira have a pretty simple job when we have superstars like that that do whatever we ask.
“It makes it fun and from an outsiders’ perspective I think the series has been Villa vs. Wright-Phillips and many ways it will be like that again, but I think it is the job of both teams to put that player in position to succeed as many times as possible and whichever team manages to do that will most likely win.”