English striker poised to join the MLS 100 Club in 2018

Major League Soccer is back. Week One is in the books and there have been plenty of talking points, with 26 goals scored and five red cards in ten games. But one familiar face was missing from the action as Bradley Wright-Phillips and his New York Red Bulls team’s first game of the season isn’t until this coming weekend.

New York Red Bulls vs Portland Timbers – Saturday March 10 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)

As RBNY prepare to get their 2018 MLS campaign underway the pressure will be ramping up on goal-machine BWP. A lot is going to be expected from him this season due to some key creative players departing the club this winter, such as Mike Grella and Sacha Kljestan. Wright-Phillips will be looking forward to getting going and will be hoping to get off the mark straight away.

The Englishman won’t be looking into personal records too much, but he will be aware that he is closing in on 100 MLS goals, which will no doubt give him an added hunger to hit the ground running.

So how has BWP performed since joining RBNY in 2013?

The stats make for promising reading for both BWP breaking the record and for RBNY to have another positive season. Since joining in 2013 they have made the postseason every year. In a total of 154 games he has found the net 95 times for Red Bulls, with 86 of them coming in regular season play.

His goalscoring form over the last four seasons has been consistent. In 2013 he only featured in seven regular season games, hence the apparent low-scoring campaign. His 2014 tally of 27 saw him join the record books for the joint most goals in a single regular season, becoming the only non-US player to achieve that feat.

With the above stats in mind, ‘BWP’ needs just 14 regular season goals – or five goals if you count postseason stats – to notch his 100th, which based on his stats in each of his full seasons, he looks poised to achieve. Over the past four regular season campaigns he has averaged 21.25 goals per season.

So long as Wright-Phillips keeps to his consistent performances he will join the MLS 100 Club in 2018. But his main aim will be to continue to fight for an MLS Cup, something he is yet to achieve as he prepares to get underway for his sixth MLS season.

Will BWP net his 100th MLS goal this season and help RBNY to reach the playoffs again?

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New York Red Bulls boss heaps praise on Shaun Wright-Phillips

New York Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch has praised midfielder Shaun Wright-Phillips for his attitude towards the game and the way he conducts himself around the club.

“Shaun Wright-Phillips is the kind of guy that I think leads by example for our young guys. It’s about how he carries himself every day, how he trains, the quality he has and the humility,” Marsch told the New York Red Bulls’ YouTube channel.

“He’s really an impressive guy, and to come here and contribute in the ways that he does, he shows every day what being a big time pro is about. He’s a guy that I think everyone looks up to.”

Wright Phillips joined his brother Bradley at the Red Bulls in July 2015 and has so far made 12 appearances, contributing one goal and an assist.

WATCH: Preseason – checking in with Shaun Wright-Phillips

Jesse Marsch plans on giving the Englishman a run-out in New York Red Bulls’ final preseason game on Saturday, February 27 away at Jacksonville Armada FC.

“He’s looked sharper and sharper, fitter and fitter every day, so the goal is to get him ready by the opening weekend and I’m hopeful that Saturday, he’s still feeling well and that we can maybe look to give him 10-15 minutes.”

Shaun Wright-Phillips says he’s looking forward to the game and hopes he can come through unscathed, so he’s “ready for the start of the season”.

“First and foremost, I just want to get through the game with no injuries, or nothing reoccurring and get as many touches on the ball as I can, and create a few chances for myself and my teammates,” he said on the Red Bulls’ YouTube channel.

Bradley and Shaun Wright-Phillips – Photo by Jason Schott via nysportsday.com

Bradley and Shaun Wright-Phillips – Photo by Jason Schott via nysportsday.com

The 34 year old is also relishing the competition in the squad and is ready to stake his claim for a regular spot in the side once the MLS season starts next weekend.

“We’re all in this together and we’re all going to fight for a place, and we have to understand there’s four wingers in there and at times there will be rotation,” said Wright-Phillips.

“But at the same time we have to support the player that’s challenging against us and hope he does just as well as I would, and it’s only going to benefit us in the long run.”

The New York Red Bulls begin their MLS campaign at home to Toronto on Sunday, March 6.

How important will Shaun Wright-Phillips be for the New York Red Bulls this season?

MLS Preview and Prediction: Houston Dynamo vs New York Red Bulls

Competition: Major League Soccer – Houston Dynamo vs New York Red Bulls

Venue: BBVA Compass Stadium – Friday, June 5 – 21:00 ET (02:00 BST – Saturday, June 6)

Match Odds: Houston 7/5 – Draw 23/10 – New York 19/10

Match Preview

Two sides desperate for points meet on Friday night as Houston Dynamo take on the New York Red Bulls at BBVA Compass Stadium.

Both teams are locked on 17 points after 13 weeks of the season, though the Dynamo have played two games more.

Houston will hope a return home will spark a first victory in three after back-to-back road trips to LA Galaxy and New York City saw Owen Coyle’s side pick up just one point.

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They won their last home game 3-1 against the Portland Timbers and have picked up 11 of their 17 points on home soil, so will be confident of picking up a result against the Red Bulls this weekend.

Jesse Marsch will be frustrated with his side’s form in recent weeks as New York have won just once in their last seven outings.

They suffered a late defeat to the Seattle Sounders last Sunday and will need to ensure that loss doesn’t further damage morale ahead of this key clash.

The Red Bulls have only won one away game so far this season and that came in Week 3’s trip to Columbus so they will have to dig deep to win this one.

Recent history is on the visitors’ side though as the Red Bulls have not lost in their last seven league meetings with the Dynamo.

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

The two met three teams in the Eastern Conference last season, with New York winning two and drawing the game in Houston 2-2. This will be the only league meeting this year though, following the Dynamo’s move to the West.

Team News

Owen Coyle’s Dynamo have very few worries heading into the game but Brad Davis is a doubt as he is suffering with a knee injury. Kofi Sarkodie and Ricardo Clark are both one booking away from suspension and need to watch their step.Will Bruin and Giles Barnes will continue in attack, with Bruin looking to score his fifth in five games after a fine run of form. Boniek Garcia and Luis Garrido are away on international duty and will not feature.

The New York Red Bulls will still be without Sal Zizzo, while Ronald Zubar is unlikely to make it as he continue his battle with a knee problem. Damien Perrinelle misses out through suspension after an accumulation of bookings, while Matt Miazga is away with the US U20’s so Marsch is short at the back again.

Key Points

Houston Dynamo’s last five: L/W/W/L/D

New York Red Bulls’ last five: L/W/D/L/L

Key Stat: There have been 22 goals in the last six meetings between the two sides in Houston. An average of 3.6 per game.

Key Player: Bradley Wright-Phillips – He may not have scored in his last three but BWP is the all-time scoring leader in the head-to-head series, with six regular season and seven total goals against Houston, including five in three games last season.

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

Score Prediction

Houston Dynamo 2-2 New York Red Bulls – This looks too close to call but goals are to be expected in what should be a thriller. With both looking to get points on the board a draw is the most likely result.

MLS Preview and Prediction: New England Revolution vs New York Red Bulls

Competition: Major League Soccer – New England Revolution vs. New York Red Bulls 

Venue: Gillette Stadium – Saturday, May 2nd – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST)

Match Odds: New England Revolution 23/20 – Draw 23/10 – New York Red Bulls 23/10

Match Preview

New England Revolution face New York Red Bulls on Saturday in one of this weekend’s standout fixtures. The Eastern Conference rivals are just separated by a point with the Revs leading the conference after eight weeks.

Jay Heaps’ side have had a strong start to the season and will be challenged here against a Red Bulls side that remain the only unbeaten team in MLS.

The Revs come into this one off back-to-back wins in a six-game unbeaten streak and look in a strong position ahead of the game.

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Goals have been coming from all over the field for New England, five from midfield and five from the forward line, with seven different scorers netting those ten goals. Charlie Davies has bagged two in his last two outings and will be hoping he can prove himself to be a big game player in this one.

New York Red Bulls remain unbeaten but have drawn four of their opening seven games. With back-to-back home draws, they will hope for better success on the road but will need to try and stop conceding the first goal to improve their chances.

It seems as if they are missing out on opportunities to be leading the Eastern Conference but if they can continue this unbeaten form it will give them a great chance of competing for top spot.

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Bradley Wright-Phillips and Lloyd Sam have started the season in brilliant form, scoring six between them. Wright-Phillips netted again midweek and his form in front of goal will be pivotal to how his side fare in the big games.

Red Bulls will have had just three days between this and their 1-1 draw against Colorado Rapids. They would have been expecting to win that game and cannot afford any complacency this weekend.

Team News

New England Revolution could be without four as Darrius Barnes, Jose Goncalves, Daigo Kobayashi and Lee Nguyen are carrying injuries. Nguyen would be a huge miss in the middle of the park but the Revs have coped well without key players already this season so Heaps should be able to rejig his midfield to cater for any potential absentees.

New York Red Bulls have just one injury concern to defender Ronald Zubar. Other than that Jesse Marsch has a full squad at his disposal. He will again be hoping for Wright-Phillips and Sam to combine but knows this is going to be a tough test.

Key Points

New England Revolution’s last five: W/W/D/W/W

New York Red Bulls’ last five: W/D/W/D/D

Key Stat: Goals – There have been 16 goals in the last five meetings between the sides so if that is anything to go by we could have an end-to-end tie.

Key Player: Lloyd Sam – The Red Bulls forward has really stepped up so far this season and is a real threat, he can be key to unlocking the Revs defence.

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Score Prediction

New England Revolution 2-2 New York Red Bulls – Another close tie with action like usual. The Red Bulls to continue their unbeaten run in possibly their toughest challenge so far.

MLS Preview and Prediction: New York Red Bulls vs Colorado Rapids

Competition: Major League Soccer – New York Red Bulls vs. Colorado Rapids

Venue: Red Bull Arena – Wednesday, April 29th – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST)

Match Odds: New York Red Bulls 8/11 – Draw 13/5 – Colorado Rapids 15/4

Match Preview

New York Red Bulls host Colorado Rapids on Wednesday evening in the only midweek game in MLS to kickstart Week 9’s action.

The Red Bulls are the only remaining unbeaten side this season and will want to keep that run going for as long as possible after an encouraging start.

Jesse Marsch’s side are sitting third in the Eastern Conference and can go top with a win here. By stark contrast, the Rapids are at the foot of the Western Conference table after eight weeks.

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The Red Bulls earned a solid point last weekend against LA Galaxy at home and will be keen to kick on in a game they should win on Wednesday. As we know from games already this season there have been many freak results so the Rapids cannot be written off.

Colorado have only won the once so far in that 4-0 thumping of FC Dallas and since then have lost one and drawn one, including Saturday’s clash with Dallas once again. Pablo Mastroeni’s side are finding goals hard to come by and have scored just six in their seven games so far this season.

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Bradley Wright-Phillips and Lloyd Sam have been in fine form and have five of the Red Bulls’ ten goals this season, and they will be key as usual and could prove to be a real problem for the Rapids defence in this one.

Team News

New York Red Bulls have one injury going into the game as Ronald Zubar is likely to miss out again, but other than that, Marsch has a near on fully fit squad to choose from. Damien Perrinelle is one booking away from a suspension so is on thin ice and will be hoping to stay out of the referees book, having played in every game so far this season, while Roy Miller could return to the side at left-back.

Colorado Rapids are set to be without Sam Cronin and Marc Burch through injury while Marcelo Sarvas will have to watch on from the sideline as he is suspended.

Key Points

New York Red Bulls’ last five: W/W/D/W/D

Colorado Rapids’ last five: D/L/W/L/D

Key Stat: Unbeaten – The Red Bulls remain the only unbeaten side in MLS and that should still be the case heading into the weekend after this one.

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Key Player: Lloyd Sam – The English speedster has started the season really well, scoring three in six and will fancy his chances of netting again on Wednesday night.

Score Prediction

New York Red Bulls 3-1 Colorado Rapids – The Red Bulls should have too much for the Rapids to withstand in this one, but given the unpredictability of MLS so far this season, Colorado have every chance of scoring and making a game of it.

MLS Player of the Week: Week 3 – Bradley Wright-Phillips

The third week of the new MLS season is wrapped up and in the books so it’s time to pick our Player of the Week. This week’s award goes to New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips who put in an unstoppable display in the Red Bulls’ home opener to see of DC United 2-0.

Wright-Phillips got his first goal of the season in the first-half and then teed up Lloyd Sam for the second goal of the game to seal a first league win of the season against last season’s Eastern Conference toppers.

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BWP tied the single-season goalscoring record in MLS last season with 27 goals but much of the talk through the offseason was about how he would cope with the loss of Thierry Henry, who provided the Englishman with so many chances last year.

Well, early signs suggest it’s the same old Bradley Wright-Phillips and he will hope to replicate the display he put in against DC United for much of the season.

Bradley Wright-Phillips' statistics from the 2-0 win against DC United (Stats via Squawka)

Bradley Wright-Phillips’ statistics from the 2-0 win against DC United (Stats via Squawka)

The 30-year-old striker created four chances for his teammates and managed to get all four of his shots on target in an impressive all-round performance.

He completed 93% of his passes and had over 50 touches on the ball. Displays like that for the rest of the season will keep the Red Bulls in fine shape.

Wright-Phillips took his goal excellently too as he plucked the ball out of the air before setting himself up for a fine volley. He’ll take confidence from that goal and will hope to build on it when he faces the Columbus Crew next weekend.

How good was Bradley Wright-Phillips this weekend? Was he your Player of the Week too?

MLS 2015 Season Preview: New York Red Bulls

As the 2015 season draws closer, we’ll have a new MLS 2015 Season Preview up everyday. Today we take a look at what the New York Red Bulls will be looking to achieve this season…

The New York Red Bulls endured a slightly frustrating campaign last season in the Eastern Conference but their playoff form was good and they must take positives into the new season after only narrowly missing out on a place in the MLS Cup final. It would appear difficult for fans to take positives into the new season at this point however after an offseason of major changes at the club. This could be a transitional season for the Red Bulls as Mike Petke has gone, a new manager is in and several key players have departed, none more important to the side than Thierry Henry, who hung up his boots at the end of the 2014 campaign.

Last season’s finish: Eastern Conference position: 4th – P34 – W13 – D10 – L11

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What needs to change this year?

The Red Bulls need to find a killer instinct in games, something which they lacked on occasions last season and they must concede fewer goals. To have had top scorer, Bradley Wright-Phillips in their side and only end the campaign with a +5 goal difference is proof of their inability to shut teams out. The Eastern Conference was closely contested last year with just nine points separating the New York Red Bulls in 4th and DC United at the top. With such fine margins and an even more competitive conference this season, they must perform at the highest level for every game.

The Eastern Conference is going to be fiercely competitive this year, with new teams New York City FC and Orlando City looking to raise a few eyebrows, while the New England Revolution look strong candidates to push all the way as they did last campaign. So it is essential that the Red Bulls get off to a strong start this season if they are to have any chance of making the playoffs. That will give supporters confidence, something that is crucial at this stage and new head coach Jesse Marsch will need the fans on his side if his team are to be successful.

Key changes to squad

Ins: Kyle Reynish – Goalkeeper, Andrew Jean-Baptiste – Defender, Damien Perrinelle – Defender, Ronald Zubar – Defender, Sal Zizzo – Midfielder, Leo Stolz – Midfielder, Felipe Martins – Midfielder, Sacha Kljestan – Midfielder, Mike Grella – Forward.

Outs: Thierry Henry – forward,  Tim Cahill – Midfield, Ryan Meara – Goalkeeper, Kosuke Kimura – Defender, Ibrahim Sekagya – Defender, Richard Eckersley – Defender, Jamison Olave – Defender, Ambroise Oyongo – Defender, Bobby Convey – Midfielder, Eric Alexander – Midfielder, Saer Sene – Forward.

Key player: Bradley Wright-Phillips – Forward

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Wright-Phillips is undoubtedly the key man for the Red Bulls and he has even more weight on his shoulders with the key departures of Henry and Cahill. He showed last season what a brilliant goalscorer he is and how he can be the difference in the side. It will be difficult for him to match last seasons total of 27 but he will be determined to try and beat that and continue where he left off. He has signed a Designated Player contract and his performances will be essential to how the Red Bulls get on this season. Without the extra threat of Henry, teams will set up to focus more attention on BWP as they know he will be the man to stop. The Englishman will certainly fight for his team and it will be interesting to see how he gets on after such a brilliant season last time out.

One to watch: Ronald Zubar – Defender

Ronald Zubar could well make the difference at the heart of the Red Bulls defence and with his vast experience of playing in top European competitions, his teammates can learn a lot from him. Zubar has nine Champions League appearances to his name and it will be intriguing to see how his Red Bull career will unfold. At 30 he still has a few years ahead of him and could play a crucial role in helping New York steady the ship.

Predicted finish: Eastern Conference – 8th 

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The fact is that the Red Bulls look to have changed too much, too quickly. It will take time for Jesse Marsch to get his new ideas across to his players and the squad has changed dramatically too. Star striker Wright-Phillips is still there but without the support of Henry it will be a monumental challenge to build on his 27 goals in the regular season last year. A good start is crucial but it looks like the Red Bulls may have to settle for a year of transition before coming back stronger in 2016.

How do you think New York Red Bull will fare in 2015?

Bradley Wright-Phillips encourages English youngsters to move to MLS

New York Red Bulls striker Bradley Wright-Phillips has encouraged more young English players to make the move stateside to play in Major League Soccer after his successes since moving abroad 18 months ago.

The 29-year-old netted 31 times for the Red Bulls in 2014, scoring 27 in the regular season to tie the all-time MLS record for single-season goals.

And he says MLS is “definitely one place English players have to try”, speaking in an interview with the FA.

“When I first came here, obviously it’s different from England, and people don’t really know what you are good at,” Wright-Phillips said.

“I wanted to show them that I can score goals and I’m not too much of a bad player and I just wanted to do that this season. I’ve done alright but there’s still a lot I can improve.”

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The Red Bulls star joined the club from Charlton Athletic in July 2013, having played in the Premier League, the Championship and League One in England.

So he is in a perfect position to offer an insight into the differences between the two countries and the differentiating styles of play.

“We play the majority of the season in the summer so the temperature is really high and it can get so hot,” he said.

“What I found playing in the Championship and a lot in League One, there was a lot of long ball, the second ball and playing down the channels.

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“Over here, the heat plays a big part in some of the games and results.

“Teams pass it out from the back and try to play. There’s a lot of tactics. It’s good.”

Wright-Phillips is one of few English players to make the move to MLS, but more and more are setting their sights on the league.

The New York forward encourages more young Englishman to make the move across the Atlantic and we could see that happening as Major League Soccer continues to grow.

“For sure. Players get really well looked after here.

“There’s a union that is looking to put things into action to help players get better contracts, and there’s a lot of things to look forward to.

“The standard is high, and it’s definitely one place you have to try. For me, I didn’t know anything about it, but I took the chance and I’m having a great time.”

Stats: MVP winner Robbie Keane’s season compared to Nguyen, Martins and Wright-Phillips

LA Galaxy forward Robbie Keane was announced as Major League Soccer’s Most Valuable Player of 2014 yesterday, as he beat Obafemi Martins, Lee Nguyen and Bradley Wright-Phillips to the MVP award.

Keane has had his best season to date with the Galaxy, scoring 18 goals in the regular season, and two more so far in the playoffs with an MLS Cup Final clash with New England Revolution in store on Sunday.

Don’t miss: MLS Cup Preview and Prediction – LA Galaxy vs New England Revolution

The Irishman has notched 12 assists in the regular season and postseason combined and has been at the heart of everything for the Western Conference Championship winners.

Table: How the MVP award was decided (via mlssoccer.com)

Table: How the MVP award was decided (via mlssoccer.com)

Keane was a convincing winner of the award in the end, with Obafemi Martins and Lee Nguyen behind, closely followed by MLS Golden Boot winner Bradley Wright-Phillips.

All four players were in prolific goalscoring form in 2014, and Keane and Nguyen will hope to add to their tally in Sunday’s MLS Cup Final.

Table: MLS MVP candidates 2014 stats including playoffs (via Squawka)

Table: MLS MVP candidates 2014 stats including playoffs (via Squawka)

Both Keane and Martins have picked up 12 assists this season – more than Nguyen or Wright-Phillips managed, but the Revs playmaker has been more effective with the ball.

Nguyen has created more chances per game, and has better shot accuracy and pass completion rates than the other three goalscoring stars who were in the running for the MVP award.

Though it is Keane who is celebrating winning the award and he will now be looking ahead to Sunday’s MLS Cup title decider with Nguyen’s New England Revolution side.

Did Robbie Keane deserve to win the 2014 MLS MVP award?

 

Dom Dwyer looking to better Sporting Kansas City goal tally next year

Sporting Kansas City striker Dom Dwyer is already looking ahead to next season in Major League Soccer and is hoping to better his impressive goal tally from 2014.

The Englishman was in fine form in front of goal this year, setting the Sporting Kansas City record for goals in a single season with 22 – an amount only bettered by fellow Englishman and New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips.

“It was fun with Bradley [Wright-Phillips] – MLS’s top goalscorer this season – chasing each other,” he told the club’s official YouTube channel.

“We talk and communicate and he said I was pushing him, he was pushing me, and so that was a fun bit of banter. He did very well.”

It was the Red Bulls who eliminated the reigning MLS Cup champions from the playoffs in the Eastern Conference knockout round, but Dwyer thinks that the team just ran out of gas in the latter stages of the season.

“We were very good this year up until about August time, and then things started not to go our way.

“We were playing well, we were solid team and I think we were favourites to win it all. Stuff can change very quickly, we kind of just lost our form, it doesn’t make us a bad team but it happens sometimes.”

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It was a successful year for the 24-year-old from a personal standpoint because of the amount of goals he scored but he is looking to better that tally next year.

“I wanted 24 goals in MLS – that was the target. Next year’s target will definitely be higher than that one,” the former Norwich City academy man added.

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“I’m always hungry to get better and I know there are a lot of areas for me to work on. I want to be a vital part of the team, a leader, someone you rely on to win games for you.”

Kansas City will face a whole new challenge next season as they have been moved into the Western Conference as a result of the addition of two new franchises in Orlando City SC and New York City FC.

But that won’t change their targets as Dwyer and his teammates will be looking to regain the MLS Cup come the end of what promises to be an exhilarating 2015 campaign.

Full interview with Dom Dwyer (via Sporting Kansas City on YouTube):