With Bradley Wright-Phillips getting a much-deserved rest on Wednesday night, New York Red Bulls head coach Chris Armas turned to a relative unknown to fill in for the club's all-time leading goalscorer.
Brian White made his first start, after a late cameo against Vancouver on Aug. 18, for the Red Bulls against the Houston Dynamo, scoring the game-winner in a 1-0 win that put RBNY back atop the Supporters' Shield standings.
"Honestly it's a dream come true," White said in a postmatch interview with MSG. "Ever since I was a young kid I wanted to be at this level, play for this team in front of my friends and family. [In] the first 90 minutes with an MLS team, to get a goal, it's a dream come true. A night I will remember."
White is a Flemington, NJ native, which is about an hour's drive from Red Bull Arena. While he was never a member of the Red Bulls academy, the forward did play with the club's U-23 team in the PDL over the summers while attending Duke University. He was named the MVP of the PDL in 2017, after scoring 17 goals. That kind of play was enough for the team to select him in the first round of the 2017 SuperDraft (16th overall).
He did not earn an MLS contract out of training camp, instead signing with Red Bulls II. After tallying eight goals and five assists, he was signed to the first team on Aug. 4. With a chance to start, White was able to score into an empty net after some hustle from Alex Muyl and fulfill a lifelong dream.
"Yeah, look, he's got a knack. He just has a knack. Guys like him, guys like Wright-Phillips, these guys know how to feel the movements, sniff the plays out around the goal," Armas said postmatch when asked about White's goalscoring exploits in the lower divisions. "When you even talk about him, it's not the guy outside the box. He just knows how to show up at the right place, right time, and he works. He loves scoring. He's a proven goal scorer, and now it starts the tally sheet in the MLS. When you see these guys come through, you never ignore the PDL goals. We didn't. We didn't ignore it in college, with USL. There it is again, there it is again. He assured himself that he got in some good spots tonight. It's a great goal for him, and we're really proud of him."
White may not get a ton of chances going down the stretch, with Wright-Phillips soaking up almost all the playing time up top, but on one night he was able to play hero.