Red Bulls' Bradley Wright-Phillips "frustrated" despite hat trick, draw

WASHINGTON — After scoring his first hat trick in more than two years and his fifth overall in MLS, Bradley Wright-Phillips didn’t feel like celebrating.

While the 33-year-old thrice pulled the New York Red Bulls back from a goal down in a 3-3 draw against D.C. United at Audi Field, he could only lament dropping two points in his side’s chase of the Supporters’ Shield.

“I feel a little disappointed,” Wright-Phillips said. “I don’t feel like we really looked like ourselves defensively. It’s obviously always good to score, but we were always coming back, it was always a goal to come back into the game. We were fighting too hard to get these wins the last two games, and I don’t really like the feeling of that.”

In their 3-0 loss in Montreal two weeks ago followed by a 3-3 draw here, the Red Bulls encountered sides desperate to ensure their place in the 12-team Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.

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Wright-Phillips admitted it’s hard to match that kind of natural urgency, even with a carrot like the Shield dangling.

“What they’re fighting for and what we’re fighting for, we’re not as desperate,” He said. “It’s tough to play these teams, especially when you go to their home grounds. It’s really tough. But if you want to be the team at the top of the league, and say you’re the best team, this is what you’ve got to do. And you’ve got to live up to that.”

As it is, the result brings New York within a point of Shield leaders Atlanta, who also have a match in hand. And in the process, Wright-Phillips’ 17th, 18th and 19th goals dealt a major blow to the postseason aspirations of an archrival.

It started with an overhead kick finish just before halftime, reminiscent of goals against New York City FC in 2016 and Toronto FC last year. This time around, Bill Hamid’s failure to corral Tim Parker’s header made the attempt possible

“I wanted a better header across the box,” Wright-Phillips admitted. “I don’t know if you watched it, I was probably moaning. Bill Hamid kind of fluffed it a bit, and it bounced up, and I thought I might as well try it.”

It was 2-2 in the 76th minute when Wright-Phillips’ low strike deflected off a D.C. defender on its way into the bottom left corner. And it was 3-3 in the 90th when he smashed Alex Muyl’s service on the volley at the edge of the 6-yard box.

“Great ball, and his understanding of where I was going to run,” Wright-Phillips said of Muyl’s cross. “Because I should’ve really run to the near post, but I saw late that it was kind of blocked. I don’t know when he saw that, but it was great vision.”

The match level for good, Wright-Phillips walked slowly back to the center circle.

“I remember in that game just feeling very frustrated,” he said afterward. “Apart from the first [goal], we didn’t celebrate, because we know it. The game shouldn’t have looked like that. Today, unfortunately, it did.”