Jul 21, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips (99) and New England Revolution defender Antonio Dalamea Mlinar (19) chase the ball during the first half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
HARRISON, N.J. — In a game that was combative, as expected, scoring chances in the run of play were at a premium and set pieces were critical.
The Eastern Conference clash on a rainy Saturday night at Red Bull Arena between the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution was less about the beautiful game and more about one beautiful set piece.
Bradley Wright-Phillips added an 80th-minute insurance goal — career goal No. 99 for the Red Bulls No. 99 as New York improved to 8-1-1 at Red Bull Arena this season and moved within two points of second-place New York City FC.
“I think it’s another night where we show what we’re made of and that we’re fearless and that we can go after games, and there’s a lot of belief,” Red Bulls coach Chris Armas said. “And when you have Bradley Wright-Phillips in the game, he’s always dangerous and he’s always a threat. I thought he was great tonight, again.”
The Red Bulls (12-5-2) started the game strong and nearly took the lead in the 2nd minute, but Aaron Long headed a Sean Davis corner kick off the crossbar. The rest of the first half was more about congested spaces on the field, battles for second balls and duels, a lot of duels.
“It’s tough and sometimes it’s a little frustrating, but we knew that before the game,” Royer said. “Always when the Revolution come here it’s a battle, it’s about long balls, it’s about fighting for the ball, it’s about second balls. It’s not about the pretty game.”
The game changed, though, when Claude Dielna fouled Tyler Adams to set up a dangerous free kick from the right side. A week after playing the hero role by scoring a late brace in a 3-2 win over Sporting Kansas City, Rzatkowski curled his free kick toward the back post and right onto Royer’s foot.
“It was not special for Danny, but I know how the guys are running so I wanted to play it in this area and I know someone from us would be there,” Rzatkowski said.
“He always puts it in the dangerous spaces so we all know where to run,” Royer said. “It’s not only my spot which is dangerous. There are a lot of spots. His serves are great and we all know where we should end up. That one was a great one.”
The game opened up with the Revolution (7-7-7) chasing the equalizer, but it was the Red Bulls who scored 10 minutes from full time. The sequence started with a quick pass from Davis to Kaku into space and the Red Bulls playmaker put the ball on a platter for Wright-Phillips to head past Matt Turner to essentially put the game away. It was Wright-Phillips’ 13th goal of the season and Kaku’s league-leading 12th assist.
“Today I didn’t really get any chances. I wanted to get one, I like to leave the game with a chance or two,” Wright-Phillips said. “Kaku, great pass, it can always be expected from him and I just had to nod it in.”