The team’s all-time leading goal scorer inked an extension on Wednesday that will keep him with the organization on a “multi-year agreement.”
The only man to ever score 20 goals twice in an MLS season, Wright-Phillips, has been nothing short of prolific for New York, including being an MVP finalist a season ago. But when he first came to the club in 2013, he wasn’t viewed that way and was a bit of an unknown, perhaps best known for sharing the name of his famous brother, Shaun Wright-Phillips, an English international and a star with Chelsea and Manchester City.
In fact, he didn’t seem all that likely to sign with the team at first.
Wright-Phillips came on trial at the same time as Sebastian Stachnik, a German midfielder who actually was impressive at the start of his trial with the club. Wright-Phillips didn’t really distinguish himself early on as he seemed out of shape and struggled with the heat of summer in New Jersey. Stachnik, on the other hand, looked good and showed a promising right foot with the ability to cross the ball.
On the flip side, Wright-Phillips just didn’t seem to mesh with the unit that former head coach Mike Petke put on the field for practice.
But after a few days, he began to click, scoring regularly in training and showing tremendous movement off the ball. As time passed, not only had he made an impression on Red Bulls management, Wright-Phillips began to seriously consider a move to the Red Bulls. Out of contract, he had previously entertained the notion based on the fact that Thierry Henry was playing here.
But now, Wright-Phillips was falling in love with the club.
“When I came here, it was a lovely day. I was in Hoboken in the ‘W.’ It was lovely, I wanted to stay here and train then go back to Hoboken and chill out by the bars. When I got here, obviously was training with Thierry, it was amazing,” Wright-Phillips said Wednesday after training.
“After a while, you start thinking ‘I can get used to this.’ Obviously, you look around, the facilities are amazing, Red Bull Arena is lovely, the coaching staff, all the players are great. It’s a nice place to come to work. Not just me, but all footballers in this place are very lucky.”
The legacy for a man who has won two Supporters Shields with New York isn’t on his mind, yet – “I’m not that old. To be fair, I want to win the MLS Cup here” – but he said that with the new contract, he’s excited that he won’t have to move his family. Not too bad to find a home after originally coming on trial with no serious thoughts about New York being a long-term option.
Not too bad to find a home after originally coming on trial with no serious thoughts about New York being a long-term option.
Now 70 goals and two Designated Player contracts later, Wright-Phillips has twice won the Golden Boot as the league’s top scorer. He has led the Red Bulls in scoring for three straight seasons, something no other player in his franchise history has ever done.
His head coach, Jesse Marsch, said, “I know there have been a lot of big players here over the years, but I don’t know if there’s a bigger one than Brad. I don’t know that there’s been a better person than Brad.” High praise, considering the names that have come through this city in recent years.
High praise, considering the names that have come through this city in recent years.
It is a standard of play from Wright-Phillips that has eclipsed some pretty big names to don this team’s colors, including the aforementioned Thierry Henry as well as Juan Pablo Angel and Clint Mathis, both prolific in their scoring rate for this franchise.
“I’m fully aware of who you’re comparing him against and I think the numbers in many ways speak for themselves. Obviously, a guy like Thierry Henry in his entire body of work in his career, is above what Brad’s has been,” Marsch said.
“But when you’re talking about just contributions to what has happened here and quality of making plays here, I think Brad’s the best.”
RED BULLS NOTES
- New York Red Bulls II open up their new home on Saturday afternoon, moving into the cozy confines of Montclair State University. They play on Saturday and again on Wednesday night at the Red Hawks soccer stadium.
- Marsch stated Gonzalo Veron (hamstring) won’t be ready to see minutes on Saturday with the USL team, but that some other players, including Veron, could be playing Wednesday night. Of interest, Marsch noted right back Michael Murillo, midfielder Derrick Etienne, midfielder Alex Muyl and goalkeeper Ryan Meara could all be candidates to play Wednesday to maintain sharpness and fitness.
- Midfielder Sacha Kljestan will return to training with the Red Bulls on Thursday after missing the weekend. Kljestan was called up to the United States National Team for World Cup qualifying but did not play in the win over Honduras or Tuesday’s draw at Panama.