Daniel Royer celebrates one of his second-half goals. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
HARRISON, N.J. — After his virtuoso performance late in the second half of the Red Bulls’ big win over Columbus Crew SC, Daniel Royer got some high praise on his scoring prowess from none other than Bradley Wright-Phillips.
BWP felt his midfield teammate was the best finisher on the squad. And that was coming from a three-time 20-goal scorer in Major League Soccer.
“In the box, Danny’s very clinical,” BWP said after the 3-0 Eastern Conference semifinal triumph in the MLS Cup Playoffs at Red Bull Arena. “If people have to guess, people will say that I’m the best finisher. Danny, if we get him in the box, if I can choose anyone, I would put Danny in the box. He’s very clinical
Royer? He would have none of that, bouncing the praise back to his Red Bulls teammate.
“Come on, he’s scored too many goals,” he said. “I just try to help the team when I have the situation to be able to, to get an assist for to score. He’s a scorer.”
Royer missed two late season matches at the San Jose Earthquakes and the Philadelphia Union before getting about a half hour’s of playing time in the regular-season finale, a 1-0 win over Orlando City SC. That result clinched the Supporters Shield for the Red Bulls.
“For me personally, it’s an amazing feeling,” Royer said. “I didn’t want to miss the playoffs. It was tough coming back. Getting injured just a couple of weeks before the playoffs … I had to find my way back. So far everything went fine. So can’t complain.”
With the Red Bulls clinging to a 1-0 lead late in the match — Royer helped set up their first goal — the Austrian midfielder broke the game open with two quick strikes in less than three minutes in the 73rd and 76th minutes.
“Well, I don’t think anyone’s so surprised with Danny burying a couple of good chances that he had, a couple of good looks,” head coach Chris Armas said. “So he’s been pushing hard, training well, coming back from an injury, so I’m really happy for Danny to come in this game of this magnitude. So again, coming in with 11 goals, he’s that 1-2 punch with Brad, so great for him.”
Royer will enter the Atlanta series with much confidence.
“I think all of us are really confident,” he said. “We are definitely not naïve, because we know that it will be a tough matchup against Atlanta, but as I said we feel confident. I feel confident, it’s always good to get some goals, it’s always nice to have a great team performance. Overall, I think everyone did a great job today and that was really important now before the break and to move on to Atlanta.”