With just a precious few minutes remaining in the New York Red Bulls'2-0 win over Toronto FC on Saturday, a passionate Bradley Wright-Phillips picked up a yellow card for dissent. Typically this might be a non-story, but Wright-Phillips happened to be one caution away from a one-game suspension.
And now, BWP will serve that suspension at the most inopportune of times as the Red Bulls will be without their talisman against first-place Atlanta United FC on Sunday (1 pm ET | ESPN), looking to claw back within a point in the Supporters' Shield race. Who can head coach Chris Armas call upon to replace his star striker?
Derrick Etienne Jr.
The likeliest option of the trio, Etienne has been no stranger to the Red Bulls' first team over the last few seasons. The 21-year-old has earned a larger role this year, appearing in 26 games (seven starts) and has scored his first four MLS goals, the latest of which coming Saturday vs. Toronto.
A stumbling block in the case for Etienne to lead the lines is that he's best suited playing alongside another striker than playing by himself. His pace and dribbling ability wouldn't get as much shine if he's busy occupying center backs and creating space for teammates underneath him.
Armas could give Etienne another chance to prove his development as a striker or tweak the formation and push Daniel Royer higher and closer to Etienne.
The New Jersey native delivered a match-winner within a month of being signed from Red Bulls II, scoring in his first and only start in August. Will he have the chance to do it again with the stakes raised?
White is more of a true center forward than Etienne Jr., making it something closer to a direct positional swap for Wright-Phillips. He is extremely short on MLS experience, having played 126 total minutes, but the 22-year-old surely looked like he belonged the last time he featured for the team.
It's another step up in quality, but White has passed each test with flying colors. From college to USL to coming on a sub in MLS to starting for the Red Bulls, White may have earned himself a new challenge.
Look — it's possible.
Abang hasn't featured for the Red Bulls since playing six minutes off the bench in a July 2016 scoreless draw to the Portland Timbers; he hasn't started since June 2016; and he hasn't scored a regular-season goal for the Red Bulls since August 2015, a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Union. Just three players from that particular matchday squad remain with the Red Bulls this season.
All of those facts vividly illuminate how entirely shocking it would be should Abang make his triumphant return to the starting XI on Sunday after a handful of underwhelming loan spells.
But he returned from loan before the end of the secondary transfer window and has scored two goals in six matches for Red Bulls II in USL play this season. Jay Simpson returned from relative first-team exile to lead the Union this past weekend, so perhaps it kicks off a trend of forgotten strikers turning unlikely heroes?
Probably not, but still, it's within the realm of possibility.