CHESTER, Pa. — Bradley Wright-Phillips didn’t do much celebrating after scoring either of his two goals Sunday. And he wasn’t in a particularly gleeful mood after the New York Red Bulls’ 2-0 defeat of the Philadelphia Union, either.
Instead, the star striker mostly felt relief after the Red Bulls escaped Talen Energy Stadium with three points on a muggy evening where, he noted, neither team had “too much quality” — particularly him.
“Today I was dreadful,” Wright-Phillips said. “I was dreadful. I hear I was close to coming out of the game. I just tried to hang in there. I did think I would get a chance. I wanted to stay in for that because I didn’t do much else in the game.”
It certainly took a while for Wright-Phillips or anyone else on the visiting side to get going offensively, even after Philly went down a man following a 53rd-minute Derrick Jones red card.
But with the nationally-televised game lurking toward a scoreless draw, Wright-Phillips broke the deadlock with an 87th-minute goal, pouncing on a Kemar Lawrence cross. He sealed the win in stoppage time by finding more open space and getting his foot on another cross, this one from Sal Zizzo.
Afterwards, Red Bulls assistant Chris Armas — who fulfilled postgame responsibilities for head coach Jesse Marsch, who quickly left the stadium to catch a flight to Poland for a UEFA coaching course — confirmed the coaches were toying with the idea of replacing Wright-Phillips.
They were happy they made no such move, allowing the Red Bulls to snap a six-game road losing streak and for Wright-Phillips to score his fourth goal in as many contests.
“I think with goalscorers, they can ride waves,” Armas said. “When they get going, they can’t miss. But Brad has a good mentality. The work was there, and he was putting himself in good spots. He wanted to be out there. You could tell, he was still working, still running hard.
“He’s a goalscorer. There’s a reason why in the last two to three years, he’s No. 1 in the league.”
The Red Bulls also relied heavily on one of their other stars, Sacha Kljestan, who they decided to drop back into a deeper role in the midfield.
Unlike Wright-Phillips, Kljestan said he thought he played “pretty well” in that role and that it allowed the team to maintain more possession. He also praised midfield partner Tyler Adams, fresh off the U-20 World Cup, for covering a lot of ground next to him and said he hopes Sunday’s win can serve as a springboard for the whole group.
“Our road form this year hasn’t been that good, so to get a little monkey off our back and take three points against a team that is a direct rival is always good,” Kljestan told MLSsoccer.com. “We’re feeling good right now.”