HARRISON, N.J.—Behind the lower bowl on the East side of Red Bull Arena are two banners. One that reads “BWP 27” as a nod to Bradley Wright-Phillips’ MLS record-tying single-season total in 2014, and one that reads “JPA 58” to pay tribute to Juan Pablo Angel’s record 58 goals for the New York Red Bulls.
The latter will likely soon be replaced.
Wright-Phillips made Red Bulls history once again, bagging a brace on Saturday night in a muggy Eastern Conference affair against the Montreal Impact. The two goals pushed the veteran striker past Angel as the Red Bulls’ all-time leading scorer with 59 regular-season tallies, and also scored New York a 3-1 comeback win at home.
The victory might prove the more important development, but breaking the record was a special occasion for a selfless player, one who usually tries to shy away from the spotlight.
“It’s definitely a proud moment, you know, [with] the names associated with that record before,” said Wright-Phillips, who now has 14 goals this season and is ahead of the likes of Angel and Thierry Henry. “Somehow, by the grace of God, I’m in it and I’m going to see how many I can get and just have to thank my teammates and everyone that’s helped me to get to this record. I can only be thankful.”
New York should be equally as appreciative towards their Designated Player, who has bagged goals in bunches and won several games for the club since playing in his first full season in MLS two years ago.
Saturday’s showdown with the Impact was the latest example of that, as Wright-Phillips led the Red Bulls in the come-from-behind triumph. He scored the record-breaker a minute after the Impact had taken the lead through Ignacio Piatti midway through the first half, as he willfully forced a shot home despite a healthy challenge from Victor Cabrera.
Then, Wright-Phillips found the winner in the 41st minute, hitting a snap header following a Sean Davis cross from the right. This was the Englishman at his very best, all while making history.
“Couldn’t have happened to a better guy,” said Red Bulls assistant coach Denis Hamlett, manning the sidelines on Saturday night in place of suspended head coach Jesse Marsch. “I think tonight he was just clinical with his chances. When he’s in front of the goal and he has those looks you can pretty much bet he’s going to finish them.”
Wright-Phillips shone brightly en route to being named Man of the Match at Red Bull Arena, and yet had healthy competition for the accolade. Reserve central midfielder Davis, filling in for injured captain Dax McCarty, impressed for the second straight week by recording two assists and one goal against the Impact.
Davis’ stats pop out the most, but his overall contributions from the onset made a statement and helped New York pick up three more points in the East.
“We feel good about Sean,” Hamlett said. “Obviously with the injury to Dax, he’s going to get a lot of minutes. He’s a humble kid, continues to work hard. He works extremely hard in training. Him and Felipe have a good partnership, a good understanding, so we were happy with that today”