Bradley Wright-Phillips won’t be doing any goal celebration against Atlanta. (Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)
HARRISON, N.J. — If the Red Bulls are to beat Altanta United next Sunday in the race for the Supporters Shield, they’re going to have to do it without their all-time leading goal-scorer.
Striker Bradley Wright-Phillips will have to watch the match at Red Bull Arena due to a yellow-card suspension for a card he accrued during the Red Bulls’ 2-0 home win over Toronto FC Saturday night.
BWP, who leads the Red Bulls with 19 goals this season, said he was “gutted” by the fact he will miss the confrontation, which is expected to go a long way in deciding who gets home-field acvantage for the MLS Cup Playoffs.
The English striker said he was “very” disappointed about the call.
“This is the biggest game in years,” he said. “In this league and for this franchise this is a massive game. I’m confident the boys can win, but I’m mad. Mad.”
In the 86th minute, Wright-Phillips lost his cool and said some profanity at an assistatn referee after his arm was pulled on by a Toronto defender. Referee Kevin Stott pulled ut a yellow card.
“Yeah, I’m mad about it. There is so much that I want to say, but I know these guys and if I tell the truth they will suspend me for another week, but it’s unacceptable,” BWP said. “What I said wasn’t that bad, it just had a swear word in it and he’s got my arm, then you get booked and I miss the biggest game of the season next week. It’s ridiculous.
“It’s ridiculous man, it’s too big. We’re men. If you can’t take a swear word and what really happened then you’re in the wrong sport man. That is ridiculous.
“If someone said that to me, I would be like sorry I missed it. It’s a yellow card. The guy was having a nightmare all game. Nightmare.”
Red Bulls head coach Chris Armas stood oup for his prolific striker.
“It’s unfortunate he’ll miss the game and of course things are said all the time, but Bradley Wright-Phillips is not the guy that crosses the line,” he said. “So for us to see certain guys get away with verbal, verbally getting after referees and for Brad himself, he doesn’t, no one respects the game more and shows it the way he does and in games we don’t think he gets a lot of leeway and the benefit of the doubt at times. And that goes for fouls and we think it goes for even tonight.”
In 2014, Wright-Phillips missed a playoff game after getting slapped with his second yellow of the series, although at that time he did not realize MLS rules stipulated that two yellows in a series forced a player to sit out a match.
Asked if he was more mad about this indicent or 2014, BWP replied, “Today, because that’s in the past. In my career I haven’t been suspended much or even have a red card or anything, it’s just I want to win and a lot of things frustrate me. This league has improved massively since I have gotten here, you know the people that officiate the games, I don’t think they have.”