HANOVER, N.J. — The New York Red Bulls offense has been downright anemic at times this season, but the club may have found a player that can help provide a cure.
The Red Bulls signed winger/forward Bradley Wright-Phillips on Wednesday in a move that ended a lengthy trial for the 28-year-old Englishman. Wright-Phillips gives New York another sorely needed dynamic attacking weapon, and his versatility will be an added benefit to a predictable offense that has been held scoreless in three of the club’s last five games and struggled to create chances consistently all year.
“What I love the most about him is he’s very offensive-minded,” Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke said after practice on Thursday. “His first choice would be to turn and go forward instead of passing the ball backwards and possessing the ball. I like that in an offensive-minded person.
“He also has options to put him outside, he likes to create out there and come inside, combine with the forwards. He’s very athletic, great nose for the goal and an energetic guy with good pace. I think he could fit in a number of places for us.”
For Wright-Phillips (whose older brother is Queens Park Rangers winger and former England international Shaun Wright-Phillips), the move to join the Red Bulls presents a bit of a challenge. He has spent his entire playing career in his native land, and will now have to adjust to playing in a foreign country on a team that is in the middle of its season.
That scenario might be enough to scare off a number of players, but that was not the case with Wright-Phillips, who did not hesitate to join the Red Bulls on trial in late June.
“My agent gave me a call, said Red Bulls are interested,” said Wright-Phillips, who will wear No. 99 due to the lack of available numbers and 1999 being a good year for him personally. “I was interested and I came over to see it and I loved it. It’s that in a nutshell.”
Wright-Phillips' availability for Saturday’s home game against Real Salt Lake (7 pm ET, MLS LIVE) is in question. His P-1 Visa has not yet been received and while it could still arrive before the weekend, he is ineligible to play until the Red Bulls have it.
Whenever he does finally step onto the field, Wright-Phillips is simply hoping to score some goals and show his teammates that he can be an asset.
“I don’t want them to think I’ve come over here and because I’m English I deserve to play. I don’t think that,” said Wright-Phillips. “I want to prove to my teammates I can play football and try and win this championship, or at least get to the playoffs.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by e-mail at Franco8813@gmail.com.