Bradley Wright-Phillips scores on a spectacular bicycle kick while Wayne Rooney watches. (Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Leave it to Bradley Wright-Phillips to save the Red Bulls again — in spectacular fashion.
After scoring on a bicycle earlier in the game, the English striker connected for the equalizing goal in the 90th minute to boost the Red Bulls into a 3-3 draw with D.C. United at Audi Field Sunday afternoon.
That 11th-hour score was BWP’s third goal of the match, although his one-man show wasn’t enough to keep the Red Bulls (`7-7-5, 56) in the Eastern Conference lead. Atlanta United (17-5-6, 57), which has a game in hand on New York, is enjoys a one-point advantage in the Supporters Shield race. United moved to 9-11-8, which didn’t help the team’s playoff quest as much as a three-point win.
“I am just really grateful for Bradley Wright-Phillips,” Red Bulls captain and goalkeeper Luis Robles said. “The only reason we have a point is because of Brad’s spectacular plays and we know when it comes to games like this especially when it’s going to be a gritty battle it’s guys making plays and Brad did that for us on the offensive end.”
Due to the Red Bulls’ defensive lapses, Wright-Phillips was forced to knot things up every time.
”I feel a little bit disappointed,” BWP said. “I don’t feel we really looked like ourselves defensively. It is obviously good to score but we were always coming back, it was always we had to score to get back into the game. We are fighting too hard to get these wins the last two games and I don’t really like the feeling of that. We came away with a point but it doesn’t really feel good right now to me.”
The hosts and New York traded goals in the first half as Paul Arriola tallied in the 25th minute before Wright-Phillips recorded his initial equalizer in the 41st minute via a bicycle kick.
Early on the in second half, Junior Moreno connected with Wayne Rooney for the goal-ahead goal in the 64th minute. Wright-Phillips completed his brace in the 76th minute off a Michael Amir Murillo pass.
D.C.’s Luciano Acosta put United up one as he danced to the end line and beat Robles to the near post in the 87th minute.
For the third and final time, Wright-Philips brought his team even in the 90th minute as Alex Muyl sent a cross in and the English striker volleyed in his hat-trick to the near post. He became BWP became only the second player in league history to record three game-tying goals in a match.
Asked if he felt he had to keep the Red Bulls in the game, BWP replied, “No, I don’t think you ever have to feel like that. It is my job to get on the end of good crosses and decent service and today I was lucky enough to. I think if you score three goals away from home, you should come home with a better result.”
Earlier this summer, Wright-Phillips scored his 100th MLS career goal at United.
Asked why the striker has enjoyed so much successful against D.C., New York head coach Chris Armas responded, “He’s a competitor and he’s a winner. So in those games that seem to have a little more on it, he maybe rises. In all reality, the reason he’s good against those teams is the reason he’s good against all teams. He scores against everybody. On this day it’s three, so he’s always up for these games.”
For the record, Wright-Philips moved into a three-way tie with Stern John and Diego Serna for second-place all-time in hat tricks with his fifth.
His hat-trick raised his season total to 19 goals, placing him second in MLS behind Atlanta’s Josef Martinez.
Wright-Phillips also moved into eighth place all-time in MLS with 105 league goals.