An ecstatic Daniel Royer celebrates scoring his penalty kick. (Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)
ATLANTA — The incredible spring of Bradley Wright-Phillips continued Sunday night, as he struck for a quick brace to lift the Red Bulls to a memorable 3-1 win over 10-man Atlanta United FC.
BWP scored two goals within a four-minute span to turn a 1-1 tie on its head at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The Red Bulls (21 points), who have won four games in a road (including three on the road) improved to 7-3-0. Atlanta (25), which remained atop the Eastern Conference, fell to 8-3-1.
Goalkeeper Ryan Meara, making his first start in a regular-season MLS game for the Red Bulls since midway through the 2012 season, recorded the win in place of regular Luis Robles. A knee injury forced Robles out of the match, breaking his league record of 183 consecutive games played.
The victory was a muted by the fact two Red Bulls starters — left back Kemar Lawrence and defensive midfielder Tyler Adams — were forced from the match with injuries.
Atlanta was forced to play the final 19 minutes and stoppage time with only 10 men after defender Greg Garza for a high tackle in the 71st minute.
United had an extra opportunity to level the match as the contest had 12 minutes of stoppage time.
Ezequiel Barco had given the hosts a 1-0 edge in the 26th minute. Barco picked up possession off a deflected ball inside the 18-yard-box and snuck one past Meara.
New York, however, countered with Daniel Royer’s penalty kick in the 42nd minute as he chipped the ball over goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
Then Wright-Phillips, who captained the team in Robles’ absence, took center stage in an amazing four-minute span.
First, he snapped the deadlock, heading in a Michael Murillo feed from six yards in the 51st minute before giving the visitors some much needed breathing room in the 55th minute, thanks to an Alejandro Romero Gamarra assist that led to his 12-yard header. Gamarra, aka Kaku, also received an assist on BWP’s first goal. He has a league-best nine assists.