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HISTORY IN DC: BWP Scores #100 in 1-0 Win

Bradley Wright-Phillips celebrates after becoming the 11th player in MLS history to reach 100 goals. Credit to New York Red Bulls.

Washington D.C.—July 25, 2018– It’s not often that sports fans get to witness the achievement of a milestone; 500 home runs, 1,000 points, a 2,000 yard rushing season. But for the soggy 15,655 fans in attendance at Audi Field last night, it happened to them, whether they wanted it to happen or not.  With a goal in the second minute, Bradley Wright-Phillips became the 11th player in MLS history to score 100 league goals, doing it in just 159 appearances, the fastest ever to achieve that milestone.  The goal would be the sole tally on the night as the New York Red Bulls defeated their oldest rival DC United in a match that was delayed by lightning for 90 minutes prior to kickoff.

New York was in control right from the beginning putting DC United under immediate pressure in the final third, and in just two minutes they found the breakthrough from a familiar combination.  Following a turnover, the ball fell to Kaku in the middle of the pitch and after playing a beautiful through ball to Bradley Wright-Phillips there was only going to be one result.  After a quick cutback onto his right foot, the low shot by BWP slid underneath a defender and DC goalkeeper David Ousted to find the back of the net for his 14th goal of the season and the 100th of his MLS career.  The English striker then wheeled away toward the Red Bulls’ travelling supporters and revealed a white jersey with 100 printed on the back, reminiscent of the celebration that his father Ian Wright displayed after becoming the all-time leading goal scorer for Arsenal in England.

Despite almost constant control by the Red Bulls, it appeared that DC United had tied the match in the 28th minute when Paul Arriola squeezed one underneath Luis Robles, but after review it was clear that the USMNT midfielder was offside and the goal was waved off.  After that it was all New York for the remainder of a very wet first half.  In the 31st minute Derrick Etienne Jr. was given a golden opportunity to double the lead when a long ball found him 1v1 with the goalkeeper.  But his attempted first-time flick by the Haitian international was skewed wide of the net, letting Ben Olsen’s side off the hook.  In the 40th minute after a tidy give and go in the box, Kaku got a great chance inside a crowded penalty area to have a shot on goal, but his shot was blocked wide.  There was concern a minute later when Kemar Lawrence was upended by a DC defender and sent head over heels to the turf.   The Jamaican outside back was able to continue for the remainder of the half and the match.

DC United would come out much stronger in the second half.  In the 52nd minute a cross from the right appeared to hit the arm of Lawrence in the box although no penalty was called.  A minute later USMNT defender Steve Birnbaum got a strong head on the ensuing corner but a diving save by Robles to his left denied the DC big man.  In the 57th minute DC United went to their new secret weapon former England international Wayne Rooney, the Manchester United legend, who signed a 2 year deal with DC after leaving Everton last season.  But it was the other Englishman on the field who almost doubled the lead in the 59th minute when Kaku played another perfect ball to Wright-Phillips.  DC keeper David Ousted was up to the task however, coming up with a huge kick save to keep the game 1-0.

Both teams then tried to take control of the match in the middle of the second half as the game lost the flow and energy from the first half of play.  Both teams went to their bench, DC bringing on Russell Canouse while Chris Armas brought on Daniel Royer, Marc Rzatkowski and Ethan Kutler to try to control the game in the midfield and help his side regain their composure.  In the 83rd minute DC would get a great opportunity on the counter attack after a New York corner but the shot was blocked by Tim Parker after a lung busting sprint.  DC continued to tighten the vice in the 87th minute, when Rooney passed to Yamil Asad at the top of the box but the scuffed shot by the midfielder was easily held by Robles.  In the 89th minute it looked destined that Wayne Rooney would tie the match but his shot from just inside the penalty area was bravely blocked in the box by Aaron Long.  That would be the final chance for the hosts as the Red Bulls would hold on for a gritty 1-0 on the road against their original MLS rivals.

All eyes will now turn to Saturday and another quick turnaround against the Columbus Crew at Red Bull Arena.  While the match Wednesday might not have been the most physical or explosive of Atlantic Cup derbies, it certainly took its toll after playing in miserable conditions.  Chris Armas who made two changes in the lineup for the match Wednesday may have to shuffle the roster again for Saturday, and the question is whether or not Armas will be as liberal in his squad rotation as his predecessor Jesse Marsch.  One thing is certain however, that if and when Bradley Wright-Phillips takes the field this weekend, he will be given a hero’s welcome.

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