There may have been no love lost between I-95 rivals Philadelphia Union and New York Red Bulls on Saturday night at PPL Park, but there was plenty of Brotherly Love.
The debut of the Wright-Phillips pairing was instrumental in the Red Bulls 3-1 victory over the Union on the outskirts of Philadelphia – giving the visitors a measure of revenge from previous two defeats against the same team earlier this year, the second a crushing shootout loss in the US Open Cup.
New signing Shaun Wright-Phillips, the brother of the team’s leading goal-scorer Bradley, drew a penalty that led to the opening goal and then set up on his brother’s ninth goal of the season that proved to be the game winner.
“We knew he would make a difference,” goalkeeper Luis Robles said of Shaun, the longtime English Premier League forward and former English international. “He’s been training here for the past couple of weeks, so we know what he’s capable of.”
For younger brother Bradley, getting on the end of Shaun’s service was a long time coming.
“He tried to set me up when I was on [Manchester] City with him,” Bradley said. “He was being very biased, and I couldn’t finish them. He went mad at me, so today I made sure I concentrated on the cut back and put it in the back of the net.”
The connection was undoubtedly a sentimental moment, but the Red Bulls’ newest addition insisted that the team’s goals supersede all individual subplots.
“It’s always going to have meaning if you can help your brother achieve his targets,” older brother Shaun said. “But I think the most meaningful part is that we got three points on the road. Now we just have to carry on to the next game.”
There were certainly moments Saturday night when that was in question – especially considering their previous struggles against the Union this season. It seemed that New York’s struggles would continue as the Union bossed the early stages of the match.
“You have you to give credit to Philadelphia for coming out and putting us on our heels,” head coach Jesse Marsch said in his postgame comments. “They were a little bit unlucky not to get a lead, and we were a little flat. We were not as sharp as we normally are. We weren’t covering as much ground, and we couldn’t really establish our rhythm in the first half.”
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Captain Dax McCarty shared a similar sentiment but minced no words in doing so.
“It was probably our worst half of the season,” McCarty said.
The second 45, however, was a different story.
After a few adjustments coming out of the locker room, the Red Bulls enjoyed some positive spells going forward and showed some bite. And then Marsch went to his bench for Shaun Wright-Phillips. It didn’t take long for the former English national team forward to make his mark, earning a spot kick for New York just five minutes after his introduction.
“To our advantage, the league is not fully aware of what he’s capable of,” Robles said. “And I think he put that on full display today, so people are going to take notice.”