HANOVER, N.J. — Move over Ferris Bueller, Bradley Wright-Phillips had a day off of his own.
The New York Red Bulls forward didn’t have to fake an illness to skip training and have an adventure in the city like the 1986 movie classic featuring Matthew Broderick as a high school senior in the starring role. But BWP made the most of three rare days off in the middle of a marathon Major League Soccer season and, in fact, a teammate made a cameo.
More on that later.
The story begins Sunday night when Wright-Phillips, his wife Leann and their three children left their suburban New Jersey home and headed into Manhattan, where they stayed in a hotel and Wright-Phillips met up with former teammate Lloyd Sam for dinner and drinks.
On a leisurely Monday morning after breakfast, the Wright-Phillipses watched Panama take on Belgium in the World Cup, rooting for his Red Bulls teammates Michael Murillo and Fidel Escobar, and then it was off to Churchill Tavern to watch England face Tunisia.
He said he prefers going out to watch matches rather than watching quietly at home.
“I like to go to a bar or a restaurant where there’s nice food and there’s going to be England fans in there,” Wright-Phillips said. “When they score or when they concede a goal, everyone is just going for it together. I like to be with people.”
When Harry Kane scored for England, there were loud cheers at Churchill Tavern and at the FOX studios in Red Square, where Wright-Phillips’ father, Ian Wright, was working as one of the analysts.
Wright-Phillips missed his dad’s celebration initially, but saw it on subsequent replays with Wright pumping his fists while jumping out of a chair in front of the monitor.
“That’s him,” Wright-Phillips said. “We obviously all love England, but he has a passion for the England team.”
He got a bigger kick out of his father’s celebration than his kids. His oldest daughter just said, “Oh, it’s grandad,” and Wright-Phillips’ soccer-crazed youngest wasn’t fazed.
“When we first used to see my dad and we’d go back [to England], he would be shy,” Wright-Phillips said of his son. “I had to say, ‘You know, he played football. He played for Arsenal.’ And he’d be like, ‘Oh did he?” And then he’s like, ‘He’s kind of cool. I can talk to you.’ He only cares about the players. When I’m done, I don’t think he’ll care.”
After watching England’s victory, it was off to Central Park. There, Wright-Phillips and his daughter enjoyed Grand Prix, a whip-style ride, as part of the Victorian Gardens at Wollman Rink fair.
After a few laps around the track, he heard his wife calling for him. Wright-Phillips turned and there was Kaku, smiling in disbelief.
“It was so weird seeing him, to be fair,” Wright-Phillips said. “Even when we left, I was just saying to Leann, ‘What are the chances?’ This guy could have come at any time.”
There was no prior text or email exchange. This was as random as it gets.
Kaku, who arrived in the offseason from Argentina, had never been to Central Park before. And like the Wright-Phillips clan, decided Monday would be a good time to take his family across the river for the same fair — at the same time.
“I had no idea,” Kaku said. “I was there first, and then I saw Brad driving and then I saw his family. Then we just all hung out together. I wanted to experience that with my family together. It’s a beautiful city. I want to see more of it. That’s why it’s good that the off-day did come so we could spend some time out there.”
So for the next few hours, the two families took in the fair, from the Whac-A-Mole to Roll-A-Ball, from Mini Mouse to Family Swing, which Wright-Phillips detailed on his Instagram story.
“We just ended up having a good day with our families just taking them on the rides and stuff,” Wright-Phillips said. “I was in so many different places in New York that day, and the time that we both went — it’s just crazy.”
Maybe Ferris himself said it best: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”