There wasn't too much the New York Red Bulls could take solace from in last weekend’s deflating defeat to the Chicago Fire, but the latest goalscoring performance from Bradley Wright-Phillips was one of them.
Wright-Phillips extended his scoring streak to four straight games by scoring a hat trick in the Red Bulls’ 5-4 loss to the Fire last Saturday. The three goals he buried against Chicago gave him eight during his recent productive run, put him atop the MLS scoring chart with nine, and showed why he might just be the most in-form striker in the league right now.
“Bradley’s been hot,” said Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke in a conference call on Tuesday. “It’s unfortunate because any game that you saw score four goals in, one player has a hat trick at home, and you walk away with a loss, there’s something very freakish about that.
“But Bradley is coming into his own lately – over the last four, five games – and that’s very refreshing and very good for us and individually for his confidence.”
While the 29-year-old forward’s latest impressive showing came in a losing effort, Wright-Phillips again looked to be the perfect complement to Thierry Henry. The two combined well for the goal that gave New York a 2-1 lead against Chicago, with Henry picking out Wright-Phillips with a quality pass that the Englishman hit home with a one-timed effort.
It was a play that appeared somewhat familiar to when Henry set up Wright-Phillips for the opener in another hat-trick outing, a 4-0 triumph over the Houston Dynamo on April 23 which, coincidentally enough, started the recent tear.
“I think once he just got that goal, he started to gain confidence,” said Petke. “He’s a streaky striker that obviously is bolstered by some confidence. He got that one goal, got the monkey off his back, I guess you could say, and then he just ran with it.”
Wright-Phillips’ current scoring spurt ranks among the best of his career. He had similar runs while with Charlton Athletic, and knows from experience that all good things come to an end eventually.
“There’ll be a time where I can’t score, so I have to enjoy it while it’s happening,” said Wright-Phillips.
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by e-mail at Franco8813@gmail.com.