As one of the most prolific scorers in MLS over the last three MLS seasons, New York Red Bulls veteran striker Bradley Wright-Phillips is a case study for his D.C. United counterpart.
American striker Patrick Mullins, 24, has been studying fellow forwards and their tendencies for years and ahead of his head-to-head matchup against Wright-Phillips on Sunday (1 pm ET; ESPN in the US, MLS LIVE in Canada), he admits picking up a thing or two from the Englishman.
“I watch all of the forwards in the league,” Mullins said. “Obviously [Wright-Phillips] sticks out because he has been one of the top forwards in terms of goal scoring and overall production for the last couple of years now.
“In terms of goal scoring prowess, I think I can be right up there with him,” Mullins continued. “I fully believe in my ability to do that. Wright-Phillips is a great example of what I consider a fully-developed, all-around forward. He is someone I like to watch and learn from.”
Wright-Phillips, who was developed at Manchester City in England, is at the top of the MLS goal scoring charts with 17 goals so far, 11 more than the next highest Red Bulls player. Since joining D.C. United from New York City FC on July 20, Mullins has scored five goals and is currently tied with Lamar Neagle for the team lead, one goal away from tying his own personal season-high goal count.
Mullins, who made his name at the University of Maryland before being taken 11th overall in the 2014 SuperDraft, has quickly become United's go-to forward as the attacking focal point of the club's 4-1-4-1 formation.
Although there are currently no American goal scorers among the Top 10 in the league, Mullins is hoping to continue to prove himself and show he can be the latest example of how American-based forward talent can emerge alongside the international quality imported by MLS clubs.
“In terms of American players in the league at that position, you have some really good examples with [Chris] Wondolowski, I think I would even throw [Gyasi] Zardes in there, and [Clint] Dempsey,” Mullins said. “It depends on a team’s style and how they approach some of their signings and personnel. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. There is a good balance of the two international and American forwards throughout the league.”