Bradley Wright-Phillips scored 126 goals for the Red Bulls across all competitions. (Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)
There will be an entirely different look for the Red Bulls in 2020, as they jettisoned two icons and most popular players Nov. 21.
The Major League Soccer team declined to pick up the option of team captain and goalkeeper Luis Robles and announced they would not re-sign striker Bradley Wright-Phillips, who is out of contract. BWP is the team’s all-time leading goal-scorer.
“These decisions are never easy,” Red Bulls sporting director Denis Hamlett said.
The Red Bulls endured a poor season in contrast to their previous seasons. After capturing three Supporters Shields over a six-year span, the team had a bumpy ride in head coach Chris Armas’ first full season in charge, finishing with a rather mediocre 14-14-6 mark and a sixth-place finish in the Eastern Conference.
BWP and Robles were emblematic of the team’s success over the past seven seasons.
Wright-Phillips, 34, who scored 126 goals across all competitions in seven Red Bull seasons, endured a difficult and injury-plagued year while fighting groin issues. He finished with one goal and one assist in seven games.
He recorded franchise-best 108 regular-season goals, two Golden Boot Awards, two-time Best XI, two-time MLS all-star and the first player in MLS history to record at least three different seasons with 20 or more goals. He also played a large role in bringing three Supporters’ Shields to the team.
“Brad will go down as one of the best forwards in MLS history, and certainly a major part of the success of this club since he arrived in 2013,” Hamlett said. “Brad had an incredible run with this club and will be remembered here as a great player, teammate, and person, and we thank him for all that he has accomplished and helped the club accomplish. This is another decision we do not take lightly and we wish Brad and his family all the best.”
As of Sunday, BWP had not found a club and it might be difficult for a 34-year-old striker to latch onto a new team.
Robles, 35, the No. 1 goalkeeper from late in the 2012 season through 2019, eventually signed with Inter Miami CD in its expansion season.
Ryan Meara, Robles’ backup since, except for the time he had been loaned to New York City FC for 2015, is expected to be take over the No. 1 role.
Robles completed his eighth RBNY season with a 13-14-6 record, with 88 saves and nine shutouts. In his career, Robles amassed a 114-71-53 mark with 72 clean sheets and a 1.29 GAA. Robles ranks sixth all-time in league history with 114 wins and eighth in shutouts with 72. He owns the MLS ironman streak with 183 consecutive complete games played and earned MLS goalkeeper of the year honors in 2015. He served as captain for the 2018 Supporters’ Shield winning team and wore the armband for a second year in 2019.
“The entire organization would like to thank Luis for his contributions to the club over the last eight seasons,” Hamlett said. “During his tenure, Luis was an important part of the team and the organization, leading our efforts on and off the field. Luis’ play and work ethic speak for themselves when you look at the individual and team success during his time. These decisions are never easy and we wish Luis and his family the best in the next stage of his career.”
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