Haji Wright scored in second-half stoppage time for Schalke 04. (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
It’s been quite a month for former Cosmos attacker Haji Wright, from making his first appearance for Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga in November to scoring his first goal for his team Wednesday.
Wright, a memeber of the Cosmos during the 2015 North American Soccer League season, made his first-team debut when he was brought on for Steven Skrzybski in the 88th minute of the 5-2 win against 1. FC Nürnberg on Nov. 24. Wright has made three appearances for the German side, including a full halftime stint in a 1-1 road draw with Augsburg.
That happened in the presence of new U.S. national coach Gregg Berhalter, who was on a scouting mission to Europe, watched Wright even put the ball in the back of the net in the 84th minute but the goal was ruled to be offside.
On Wednesday, the 20-year-old forward-winger made the most of his second start — he has played in four matches — scoring in the second minute of second-half stoppage time in a 2-1 loss to Bayer Leverkusen.
U.S. international Weston McKennie headed Bastian Oczipka’s corner kick and headed the ball downward from yards yards. Wright had position in front of his marker, stuck out his right foot and redirected the ball past goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky from four yards.
Despite his late scoring heroics, the Los Angeles native was surprised Schalke did not earn at least a draw.
“We played really well. I think in the first half we pressed them well,” he said. “We were very tough to get by and offensively we created a lot of crosses, got a lot of crosses in. I’m honestly astounded how we lost the game. Props to them, they scored their two goals. But we’re very disappointed to lose this game.”
Wright became the second young American in less than two weeks to score his first Bundesliga goal. Josh Sargent, 18, scored two minutes into his debut for Werder Bremen Dec. 7.
He also became the eighth American to find the back of the net in league play this season. Bobby Wood has tallied three goals for Hannover, while Wolfsburg’s John Brooks, Borussia Moenchengladbach’s Fabian Johnson, Borussia Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic, Fortuna Duesseldorf’s Alfred Morales and McKennie have one apiece.