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Wright-Phillips the Difference Again

Bradley Wright-Phillips celebrates with teammates after scoring the winning goal against the Chicago Fire.  Credit to New York Red Bulls.

Bridgeview, IL—August 11th, 2018—A 55th minute goal from Bradley Wright-Phillips was enough for the New York Red Bulls to win their second straight match, a gritty 1-0 victory, over the Chicago Fire on Saturday.  The goal for Wright-Phillips is his 15th of the season, making him the first player in MLS history to record five consecutive seasons with 15 or more goals.  Daniel Royer recorded his first assist of the season on the goal and Luis Robles only had to make one save for his eighth clean sheet of the season.  The win is the 5th out of the last 6 for Chris Armas’s side who now sit just one point behind Atlanta United for the most points in the league with a game in hand.

The first 15 minutes of the match could be described by two words: slow and gritty.  Neither team could manage to produce a single look at the net it what became a complicated quagmire in the midfield.  Chicago in particular played an extremely defensive posture, not surprising for a club that had lost its previous six matchups entering the match while allowing 17 goals in that stretch.  New York continued to run into the Chicago defensive wall but found a small crack in the 20th minute when Daniel Royer received the ball in the top right corner of the penalty area, but his shot was just dragged wide.  Luis Robles had very little to do in the first half, as the Red Bulls back line, shut down much of what was thrown their way in the first half and in fact only attempting one shot on net the entire match.  Royer would get another chance in the 45th minute when he was found by a Kaku through ball, but his shot was easily collected by Chicago keeper Richard Sanchez.

The second half picked up where the first half left off with both teams struggling to produce any play with quality.  Chicago got its first decent opportunity when a pass found Luis Solignac in the box near the end line, but pressure from Robles forced a corner for the home side.  New York would finally get the breakthrough in the 55th minute.  Midfielder Tyler Adams forced a poor pass from former Red Bulls captain Dax McCarty which went to Royer at the edge of the box.  The Austrian winger then spun and laid a perfect pass to Bradley Wright-Phillips, who collected the ball and then with the outside of his right boot put the ball past Sanchez.  Chicago would try to respond five minutes later when a cross from McCarty came to Aleksandar Katai but his header went just over the net.  Nemanja Nikolic would also get a glorious header chance just moments later, but like Katai his effort went high.  It would be Nikolic who would give Robles his only test of the game in the 71st minute when he received a long down field pass at the top of the 18.  The Serbian’s chipped effort looked sure to be heading into the net, but the Red Bulls captain was up to the task leaping into the air to tip the shot high and wide of goal.

The remainder of the second half returned to the choppy affair that had been the story of the first half, with four Red Bulls getting yellow cards in the second half.  In the 81st minute a long cross from the left by Tyler Adams, found defender Michael Murillo who after a couple of nifty dribbles fired a high hard shot at goal that was palmed away by Sanchez.  In the 85th minute, Armas would look for the final time to his bench, bringing on Romanian midfielder Andreas Ivan for his MLS debut.  After four minutes of stoppage time which was again uneventful, the final whistle blew securing the 15th win of the season for New York.

The victory last night was a measure of revenge for the Red Bulls who suffered a rare home defeat to the Fire on April 21st.  Next weekend Chris Armas and company will head out to western Canada to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps for the only time this season.  New York has only won once on the road in Vancouver, and they will face a familiar foe in Felipe, who was traded for Tim Parker just before the start of the season.  The question will be how focused the Red Bulls players can stay knowing that they face a midweek trip to NYCFC next week.  But knowing that a victory and any drop of points by Atlanta would mean moving into first place in the league, might be just the incentive that the Red Bulls need.

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