MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. – No Thierry Henry. A new Designated Player contract. A new coach.
New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips may be amidst major changes at his club ahead of the 2015 season, but the 29-year-old plans to maintain an even keel.
“I had an interview at the end of the season, I told them, ‘Don’t expect any wonders. You’re going to get what you got from me this season.’ I don’t go into a game without running hard, working hard, trying to score goals. That’s exactly what I’ll do this season.,” he told reporters during MLS media day on Tuesday. “If they’re expecting something more, they will be disappointed, I can let you know that now. If you are expecting me to be Thierry Henry, you will be disappointed.“
Wright-Phillips is coming off of a career year in which he tied the MLS single-season scoring mark with 27 regualr-season goals and netted four more to lead New York to the MLS Eastern Conference Championship. But he said he did not expect all the attention that came his way in 2014.
“To be honest with you, I was annoyed with all the attention; I felt like it was a lot of attention and coverage. I couldn’t go anywhere without talking about it,” he said.
Though the English striker is now a DP for the Red Bulls, the turmoil surrounding the team has been dominating headlines in recent weeks. Wright-Phillips said the departure of head coach Mike Petke, who he called “very relaxed” and “a cool guy,” was “a bit of a surprise, but that’s football, man.”
He has spoken to new Red Bulls sporting director Ali Curtis and new head coach Jesse Marsch, saying his talk with the latter, “filled me with confidence. He sounds like a good guy.”
With Henry’s departure, Wright-Phillips said that while he had learned a great deal from the legend, he hopes being without him will focus the remaining players in his permanent absence: “I hope it affects us in a positive way. … The games we played when Thierry wasn’t there, it made players step up more. You know you can’t depend on Thierry to get you out of a situation. When he’s there, sometimes you might be a bit half-hearted, thinking, ‘He might get a free kick, he might put it in the top corner.’ I feel like with Thierry going, how I’m going to look at it is I’m going to try and take more responsibility on the pitch so nobody has to depend on one person.”
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While the reigning MLS Golden Boot winner noted that his attitude of not obsessing over goals and chances helps him be successful, he did say he still thinks about missing the second leg of New York’s Eastern Conference Championship series against the New England Revolution due to a yellow-card suspension “every night.”
“It was so frustrating to watch, because I should have been out there," Wright-Phillips said. "It was a stupid yellow card. They’re the kind of things you have to live with.”
But Wright-Phillips also deflected the blame on the matter from Petke, who admitted afterward that he did not tell his players which ones were in danger of yellow-card suspension, saying, “He shouldn’t take responsibility, I’m a grown man. I should know. I honestly didn’t know the rules of that; I should know that. This is my job. It was amateur of me not to know.”