HANOVER, N.J — In the New York Red Bulls’ penultimate training session before Saturday’s highly-anticipated clash with the LA Galaxy (2 pm ET | ESPN, TSN — Full TV & streaming info) at Red Bull Arena, Bradley Wright-Phillips stayed inside to do some gym work.
The Red Bulls forward, who has one goal in six games this season, was left out of his club’s gameday 18-man roster against FC Cincinnati last week because of a groin injury and appears likely to miss his second straight game this Saturday.
“He wants to be out there,” RBNY coach Chris Armas said on Thursday. “We’re just managing him the right way. He had some soft-tissue soreness and we're just playing it smart, because missing him for one or two games with a lot coming up is a better picture than four or five or six [games]. We’re just managing him and he's doing really well with it.”
Armas sang a similar tune with Kemar Lawrence, who missed most of the first month of the season recovering from a knee injury suffering during last year’s Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. The idea is to be extra patient, especially early in the season.
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“With some of these things soft tissue-related, if you don't give it the proper rest it just hangs around,” Armas said. “So for him, we’ve just managed him the right way and given him some rest.”
In place of the 34-year-old Wright-Phillips, one of Major League Soccer’s most potent scorers ever, Armas chose Brian White instead of new signing Mathias Jorgensen in his starting XI in the 1-0 win over Cincinnati.
While Jorgensen, a dynamic 18-year-old Dane who cost a reported $2.5 million when he arrived over the winter, brings something different to the position, the 23-year-old White is more of a like-for-like swap.
“We love Brian. We love him because in so many ways he's a version of Brad,” Armas said. “He gives to the team, he runs, he’s tactically intelligent. Doesn’t have the goal-scoring record or shown that ability that Brad has – [he] hasn’t gotten the reps – but I mean Brad is maybe the greatest of all time in the league at this.”
White has seen limited playing time, but scored his first MLS goal in his first league start, against the Houston Dynamo, last year and played well in a 2-0 victory over Atlanta United late in the regular season.
“The work that Brian puts in, he chases and we saw it even last year [against Houston] and in the Atlanta game, how important he is and was for the team,” Armas said. “Him and Brad have such a good relationship, he learns a lot from Brad and Brad mentors him. So it's a nice combo there. And in some days we’ll have them both on the field at the same time.”
Jorgensen, meanwhile, played the full 90 minutes for Red Bulls II, scoring a second-half brace in a 5-0 win over Birmingham Legion FC in the USL Championship Wednesday night.
“It was great to see Mathias, even last night in the USL game,” Armas said. “We know he can score and he's really getting up to speed with how we play and meeting the demands of a next level for him.”