New England Revolution's Brian Wright makes case for more minutes

ALLSTON, Mass. – Brian Wright who? It was a question New England Revolution fans may have been asking on Wednesday night, but they certainly know now.

In a 2-1 win over D.C. United in the Open Cup’s fifth round, the rookie striker was at the heart of every promising attack by the Revs. He scored the game-winner in the 48th minute – his first professional goal – and drew the foul for Diego Fagundez’s equalizer off a free kick just before halftime.

Wright also hit the post in the 47th minute and narrowly missed bagging a brace in the 51st. His head coach, therefore, was thoroughly impressed.

“I thought a couple weeks ago in the Open Cup against Rochester there were moments, but tonight was a really solid performance all the way around,” Jay Heaps said of Wright. “Even his hold-up play in the first half was excellent. I thought he was really good. He’s not 90-minutes fit yet, so he ran out of gas, but I’m really proud of the way he came about and scored his goal.”

As Heaps hinted at, minutes have been hard to come by for the 22-year-old Wright, who was drafted out of the University of Vermont in the first round of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft.

He’s yet to appear in MLS action, but made his club debut on June 14 in a 3-0 win over the USL’s Rochester Rhinos in Open Cup action by playing all 90 minutes. Wright said those experiences are valuable, and now he wants more.

“Being a young guy, it’s a good thing to get my minutes here, not being able to get my minutes regularly on the weekend,” Wright said. ‘They always say to keep working hard in practice, and when your opportunity comes, try to make the most of it. I thought I did that tonight.”

During college soccer, Wright proved he had a penchant for finishing, as he bagged 39 career goals and was a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy his senior year.

Operating out of the America East conference, the Ajax, Ontario native said he often was stretching an opposing back line. Now, with the Revs, he’s tasked with holding the ball up and letting the Revs flood forward.

It’s a role he’s still adjusting to, but Revs goalkeeper Brad Knighton said Wright’s progress is promising.

“He’s been fantastic in training and staying after to work on finishing and waiting for his opportunity,” Knighton said. “I’m very happy for him to take his chance tonight and score his first goal. Hopefully there’s many more like that to come.”

The question for Wright now is if he can force his way into Heaps’ MLS plans.

He has been behind Kei Kamara, Juan Agudelo and Teal Bunbury in the pecking order, but maintaining faith that his moment – like Wednesday at Harvard’s Jordan Field – is nearing.

“The guys know what I’m capable of,” Wright said. “I wouldn’t say they put pressure on me, but they have belief in me and say, ‘Go out there and do your thing.’ I was able to do that tonight.”