(Mike Lawrence / Sportsday Wire)
Bradley Wright-Phillips has been one of the most-prolific goal scorers in the MLS since he joined the New York Red Bulls in 2013.
Wright-Phillips has scored 45 goals in his time with the Red Bulls, including 27 goals in 2014. Last season, he had 17 goals and a career-high seven assists.
He enters this season within striking distance of the Red Bulls’ all-time goals record, trailing Thierry Henry (51) and Juan Pablo Angel’s club-record 58 goals.
Goal scoring runs in Wright-Phillips’ family. His father, Ian Wright, scored 185 goals in all competitions for Arsenal of the English Premier League. He is second all-time in Arsenal history to, ironically, Thierry Henry, who has 228 goals.
Wright-Phillips said of the possibility of becoming the all-time goal scorer in Red Bulls history, “It’s obviously – if it happened, I would be very, very honored. You know, a club this size and my name attached to that record would be good, but I always say this every year: I don’t start off trying to hit targets because it doesn’t work out for me. So you know, if I’m near the target somewhere during the season, you come to me I’ll give you – I can tell you how I really feel and what it would mean to me. But for now, I’m trying to keep it quiet.”
On what he can improve this season, Wright-Phillips said, “There’s always something, but I want to – I feel like, even last year I could’ve been cleaner with just holding on the ball. I want more assists. The goals thing you know I don’t try to think about too much because then you fail, but yeah just my all-around game I keep working on that. I’m going to look for more assists and just more ball retention, I don’t want to give the ball away too much. I think those things will help my team out and I think that my team will appreciate that more than just scoring a handful of goals.
Shaun Wright-Phillips, Bradley’s brother who is entering his first full season with the Red Bulls, said of what Bradley is doing well right now, “See, that’s the thing, everybody thinks he’s actually changed. That’s my brother I’ve known since we played Sunday league football, to be honest with you. He’s always been a goal scorer, he’s always worked hard, he’s always entertained the crowd. I think now he’s just getting his chance to do it on the big stage and he’s just rising to the occasion.”
Shaun says of pressure for goals building when you have the reputation of being a goal-scorer, “I wouldn’t say there’s a unique pressure. I feel if you’re an attacking player and you get chances and you don’t score it, then I think you naturally feel like, in your head, you start thinking to yourself, ‘well, what’s wrong, I was doing everything I was doing possibly last year’ and it just hasn’t happened. You could make an example of (Eden) Hazard (of Chelsea), to me, still one of the best players, but because he didn’t score as many as he did last year, people think is he gonna break his streak. Sometimes, if you can create goals – creating a goal is sometimes just as good as scoring, so as long as you work hard and you help your team, create chances, and obviously if you get chances, try to take them, I think it’s all positive.”
Shaun said of luck being a part of scoring goals, “I believe sometimes in football, luck is something that you make yourself through your hard work. You take your chances, it just depends on your desire and hunger to get in the box and get on the end of things (plays).”
Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch said of what having a scorer like Wright-Phillips does for his team, “Well, you know, I actually think the luxury that Bradley provides has nothing to do with goals. It actually has to do with the way he trains and treats his teammates, the kind of man he is within our team. He continually impresses me with his work rate every day. He’s one of the hardest-working guys on the team, he’s one of the most humble players on the team, and for him to be our big player, our big scorer – for his mentality to be so grounded and so humble mean’s there’s little room for anyone else to act differently. So, you know, you guys see I think the byproduct of many of the hard work that he puts in behind the scenes. And you know the first day that I came with this team last year – it was a training session that I put him through – I was amazed at how hard Brad works. Because I watched him from afar, but working with him up close has been a real pleasure. We’re lucky to have him for many different levels and this preseason he’s looked really sharp and I expect him to have another big year for many different levels. So I understand why you reference the goals, but it’s really so much more.”
Red Bulls captain Dax McCarty said of Wright-Phillips, “[Goals and strike rates are] easy stats to look at, but from our persecptive – there’s always pressure on them to score goals, but strikers are so much more than that. Bradley’s much more than just goals. I think the year he tied the record for most goals in a season, he was all about goals. And he’s a tremendous finisher, he’s always been a great finisher, but if you ask me personally I think that he did more for the team and he helped the team out a lot more and he became a complete player for us last year – the way that he was unselfish in hie defending, the way that he held the ball up against bigger center backs, the way that he got assists, the way that he made runs in behind, the way that he still continued to score goals at a very high rate – he did basically everything for us last year…But at the end of the day [strikers] are judged on goals and, for better or for worse, that’s what they have to live with.”