HARRISON, N.J. – Bradley Wright-Phillips continued his hot streak on Saturday night as the New York Red Bulls striker found the back of the net for a fourth straight game. His latest goal was the go-ahead score for the Red Bulls in a hard-fought 3-1 win over Orlando City SC on Saturday night.
The goal, struck in the 60th minute, made for No. 14 of the season for Wright-Phillips, and came as the byproduct of some quick ball movement from the Red Bulls. First it was a dissecting through ball from Sean Davis that led to a good feed across the six-yard box from Alex Muyl down the right channel, the last touch before Wright-Phillips shepherded it across the goal line with the his left foot.
The goal emphasized a night where the Red Bulls started slow but began to heat up before a sellout crowd of 25,219.
“Today I wasn’t getting many touches, today I wasn’t getting many chances. I just felt like that was one I really couldn’t miss – it was put on a plate. I suppose it goes like that. When you’re scoring, it feels like you can do no wrong. And when you’re not, it feels like it’s this big,” Wright-Phillips said post-match, making a small box motion with his hand. “I guess it’s just the life of the striker.”
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For the English striker, it was his fifth goal in his past four games, part of a stretch in which he now has eight goals in the last eight games. His form coincides with a hot streak for the Red Bulls, winners of six in their last eight games.
“I don’t know, it’s weird right now. I feel like I’m a streaky striker. I didn’t know it was eight in eight. Jesse’s challenged me to just, almost be there for finals plays – just get on the end of final plays and be there to score the goals or finish off a good team play,” Wright-Phillips said.
His role has changed in recent weeks as head coach Jesse Marsch has switched up formations. Now, with the Red Bulls essentially running a six-man midfield, Wright-Phillips is free to poach, and isn’t dropping as much into the midfield to be involved in the build-up.
“And I’ve tried to think about that in the games. I used to try get involved and link-up plays but my role has changed. So, I’m happy to have done that today," he said.
Typical of Wright-Phillips, humble and reluctant to talk about his own exploits, he wanted to point to his teammates for their role in the win. It was a strong result for the Red Bulls, especially coming off last week’s 3-2 derby loss at New York City FC. The Red Bulls gave up a second-half lead in that match as the wheels fell off against their crosstown rivals.
On Saturday night, Wright-Phillips' goal midway through the second half was the reward for a team that responded from going down by moving the ball more crisply, and pressing Orlando’s backline more. But it was Wright-Phillips once again coming up big to find the goal that put his team ahead for good.
“The thing that I'm most pleased with is that he's just now become so much more of a cut-throat goalscorer," Marsch said of Wright-Phillips. "He's always been a great goalscorer, but lately, it's like he's focused now, when he gets the chance to make sure that he buries it. And if it doesn't come right away, to stick with the game and concentrate and make sure that he's putting himself in front of goals to make plays, has been great.
“That's what that goal was. The last thing I said to him before the half was, 'Final plays.' He made a big one.”