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99 for 99: Wright-Phillips Inches Closer to History in 2-0 Victory

Bradley Wright-Phillips after scoring his 99th MLS goal Saturday night against New England. Credit to New York Red Bulls.

Harrison, NJ–July 21, 2018–  Bradley Wright-Phillips scored his 99th MLS goal and Daniel Royer found the scoresheet for the fifth time on a rainy Saturday night in Harrison, as the New York Red Bulls defeated the New England Revolution 2-0.  Major League Soccer’s assist leader Kaku and recent hero Marc Rzatkowski both provided an assist a piece, while captain Luis Robles recorded his 6th shutout of the season.  The victory gets the Red Bulls to 38 points through 19 matches in 2018, keeping them third in a very competitive Eastern Conference.

Head Coach Chris Armas made two changes to his lineup on Saturday from the starting 11 that came from behind against Sporting Kansas City.  Marc Rzatkowski, who scored twice off the bench in the last match, replaced Alex Muyl while outside back Connor Lade was replaced by Panamanian international Michael Murillo.  This was Murillo’s first appearance for the club since returning from the FIFA World Cup in Russia where he made two appearances in the group stage for Los Canaleros.

New York almost took the lead in the first five minutes when a corner from Sean Davis in the second minute found the head of an open Aaron Long.  But the California native’s attempt on goal struck the crossbar and went out of play for a goal kick.  Despite pretty constant pressure, Long’s header would be the only quality chance for a long time for either team, as both teams engaged in a very chippy midfield battle which ultimately led to yellow cards for both Long and Kaku before halftime.

The New England Revolution have been a revelation this season under new manager and former USMNT GK Brad Freidel, and the forward combination of Teal Bunbury, Diego Fagundez and Juan Agudelo started having more and more effect on the match as the first half progressed.  Bunbury would get the first good look at goal in the 17th minute but his shot never troubled Luis Robles and flew high into the stands.  The Revs would get a golden chance in the 35th minute when after a series of counter-attacks, Diego Fagundez sent a dangerous curling ball to Bunbury at the edge of the six-yard box.  But Robles would again be the hero stopping the shot at point blank range just before both players came together in a heavy collision.  Neither team could get a good look at goal in the remainder of the first half and went back to the locker room scoreless.

Armas’ men would come out much better in the second half as the high press and New England’s heavy legs from playing in a match midweek in Minnesota began to take their toll.  New York almost took the lead in the 67th minute when Kaku sent a floating ball to Daniel Royer at the far post who just couldn’t get his head on it and put it into the side netting. The breakthrough would come from the Austrian two minutes later when New York was awarded a free kick near the right-hand touchline.  The curling ball by Rzatkowski somehow avoided several players in the box before falling to Royer at the far post for a simple tap in for his fifth goal of the season.  The game would be put away in the 80th minute when Kaku, using his signature touch, sent a looping ball into the box to Bradley Wright-Phillips whose pinpoint header beat GK Matt Turner at the near post to make it 2-0.  It seemed the Englishman would be destined to get goal number 100 when New York was awarded a penalty for an apparent hand-ball in the box by New England minutes later.  However, after a video review, it was ruled that defender Delamea for New England did not intentionally handle the ball and the penalty was waived off meaning the match would end in a 2-0 score line.

The upcoming week for Chris Armas and this Red Bull team will be filled by rivalry, storylines and questions.  The next match will come on Wednesday night as New York will face D.C. United in the nation’s capital.  The renewal of the Atlantic Cup, and the longest rivalry in Major League Soccer, will be the first of three matchups this season.  The last time the two teams met was in the final game of the regular season last year when the Red Bulls won 2-1 in the last game at RFK Stadium.  Wednesday’s game may also be the debut of the Red Bulls newest international signing Andreas Ivan.  The 23-year-old Romanian winger was recently signed after being on trial with the club and recorded eight goals and 6 assists last season with German club SV Waldhof Mannheim.

The match will also provide striker Bradley Wright-Phillips a rare opportunity in soccer; the chance to hit the 100-goal plateau.  Wright-Phillips would be just the 11th player in league history to hit the century mark in goals, and would join Landon Donovan, Chris Wondolowski, Jamie Moreno and Taylor Twellman as the only players to record 100 goals with a single franchise.  BWP would also join Twellman as only the second player to record all of his career goals with one team and would set the record for being the fastest to achieve the feat in just 159 appearances.  One thing is certain: if there’s one thing that Bradley likes more than scoring goals, its scoring goals in rivalry games.  So those Red Bull supporters who decide to make the five-hour trek down to Washington D.C. might very well witness a piece of history on Wednesday night.

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