The reluctant superstar gets his due
Bradley Wright-Phillips stood on a stage erected on the field after the win as part of an elaborate ceremony to honor his 100 regular season goals.
BWP was in the limelight, just where he hates to be.
But he managed to enjoy the ceremony — eventually. The club showered him with assorted ‘100’ gifts, including the game ball from the match against D.C. United when he became the fastest in league history tor reach that milestone. There were also video messages from former teammates Thierry Henry, Sacha Kljestan, Dax McCarty, former coaches Mike Petke and Jesse Marsch and family members, including his father Ian Wright, the former Arsenal star.
What Wright-Phillips said he found most touching was that many of the fans stuck around for the lengthy ceremony.
“Once I’m there and I see it and all the fans stayed behind, that’s another thing — thank you for staying behind, that was amazing,” Wright-Phillips said. “Yeah, it’s overwhelming. I really appreciated it.”
The club also revealed that BWP’s No. 99 would be retired when he’s finished playing for the club. Which begs the question: When would that be for the 33-year-old forward?
“I don’t know, I feel good,” he said. “I feel fit, sharp. I said from the beginning of the season, this is my best off-season. I’ve done a lot of work and this season, I feel way better than I did last season. … If it’s up to me, football, you can never say — whenever it’s up to me, I’ll stay here forever.”
Adams shuts it down
Danny Royer was in the spotlight for scoring a brace and BWP was honored post-game so a lot of the post-game conversation was understandably about him. But almost quietly, Tyler Adams put his stamp on the Red Bulls win with another strong defensive performance in the center of the park.
“Tyler is awesome. I think he’s a machine,” Royer said. “In his age, I don’t know how many ways this guy can go. It’s crazy. This guy won’t stop running. He won’t stop fighting, especially in his position it’s really important.”
Adams helped keep Carlos Vela in check, with the Mexican international lacking the time and space he usually has to make a difference.
“These guys are difficult because they stay in blinds spots. They find spaces. They pop up where you’re not, and it’s just a feel for the game that players like him have, so it’s not really a one-man job,” Red Bulls coach Chris Armas said of Vela. “We can see that, you know, at half time we talked about it and even looked at some of the clips where he’s just finding space. It’s just difficult.”
Armas also credited central defenders Tim Parker and Aaron Long for being connected and Royer and Marc Rzatkowski for compressing to close down spaces and create numerical advantages for the Red Bulls.
Robles the sweeper keeper
With the Red Bulls playing a high defensive line, there was the chance that LAFC could exploit the space behind the defense for scoring chances. Armas said they are one of the league leaders in balls played behind via tricky, slashing runs.
They tried that, especially in the second half, looking to get Diego Rossi, Marcos Urena and Latif Blessing into attacking spaces, but just when they did that, Luis Robles raced off his line to snuff out opportunities.
“I thought as the game went on, Luis got better and better at that,” Armas said. “There was one scary moment in the second half that he’s out there but I’ll tell you, we told him to be aggressive. When in doubt, be aggressive, Luis, and it’s not always easy for a goalkeeper to be in that uncharted territory, but he did a great job.”