And, for the first time this season, the New York Red Bulls got the better of the Philadelphia Union.
Wright-Phillips, signed by New York earlier this week after many years in the English Premier League, set up two goals as the Red Bulls stormed to a 3-1 win over the slumping Union in an entertaining Eastern Conference matchup Saturday night at PPL Park.
Sebastien Le Toux scored the only goal for the Union (6-13-4), who have lost three straight league games as their already-flickering playoff hopes continue to fade. Before Saturday, the Union had beaten the rival Red Bulls twice this season, including a 10-man triumph in the US Open Cup quarterfinals at Red Bull Arena last week.
Just a minute after the Union tied the game at 1-1, Shaun Wright-Phillips danced around Ray Gaddis in the box and found his brother Bradley Wright-Phillips for the game-winning goal in the 74th minute.
The goal was Bradley Wright Phillips’ ninth of the season but the first from his brother, who entered the game in the 60th minute and provided a glimpse of the effective partnership the two siblings can provide in the Red Bull attack.
Eight minutes before that goal, Shaun Wright-Phillips drew a penalty when he was crashed into from behind by Barnetta, who had come into the game for his own MLS debut just moments earlier. Barnetta was signed by the Union on Wednesday after a decorated career in the Bundesliga.
Kljestan banged home the ensuing penalty kick to give the Red Bulls a 1-0 lead – which they held until the 73rd minute when Le Toux scored his second goal in as many games when he pounced on a ball in the box after Fernando Aristeguieta got an initial touch on a low, driven cross from Cristian Maidana.
With the Union pressing hard for the equalizer, Abang iced New York’s win with a breakaway goal right before the final whistle.
Before the game’s exciting conclusion, neither team had a shot on target in the first half, and there were few legitimate scoring opportunities, either.
But the action picked up from the outset of the second half.
In the 49th minute, John McCarthy – filling in for the injured Brian Sylvestre (hand laceration) and starting his first league game in net since May 2 – made a nice stop on Bradley Wright-Phillips, his first of the game.
Eight minutes after that, Robles made his first save when he punched away a tricky Maidana free kick that squeezed through a large scrum in the box. That free kick followed an Anthony Wallace yellow, which was shown just a few minutes after Damien Perrinelle was shown a yellow for dragging down C.J. Sapong to prevent a possible breakaway – a play that Union head coach Jim Curtin adamantly thought deserved a red.
The Union dropped to 0-7-0 on the season without standout playmaker Vincent Nogueira, who missed the game with a pulled quad.
The Red Bulls have a quick turnaround with a road match at Montreal on Wednesday, while the Union return to action next Saturday at Orlando.
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com.