2014 Review: #1 Bradley Wright-Phillips

2014 REVIEW - Wright-PhillipsIt was not difficult to choose the Englishman abroad who had the best 2014. Who could argue with a season which yielded 31 goals?

In his first full season with the New York Red Bulls, Bradley Wright-Phillips equalled the record for the highest number of regular season goals in a year and also guided his side to the MLS Cup conference finals.

The half-brother of Shaun Wright-Phillips and the son of Arsenal legend Ian Wright, Bradley is of a serious football pedigree and began his career alongside his sibling at Manchester City.

After leaving the Citizens, the forward had spells with several Football League sides, most noticeable with Charlton, where he fired 22 goals in a single season and won the League One title.

However, the following season with the Addicks was not as successful and after nine seasons as a senior pro in England, Wright-Phillips joined MLS side New York Red Bulls in July 2013, partway through the club’s season.

Although on a personal level the remainder of the season saw the English striker contribute just two goals in nine games, the Red Bulls did win their first MLS Supporters’ Shield – awarded to the side with the best regular season record.

Last year though, the former Manchester City striker took his game to the next level.

After scoring in the first game of the season against Vancouver Whitecaps, the striker had to wait six weeks until he found the back of the net again but it was worth the wait. He signalled his intentions for the rest of the season as he fired a hat-trick in an impressive 4-0 win over Houston Dynamo.

After his treble against the Dynamo, Wright-Phillips did not look back and his free-scoring exploits continued from then on.

Another hat-trick followed a month later before notching against European heavyweights Arsenal and Bayern Munich in mid-season friendlies, the latter scored whilst featuring for the MLS All-Stars.

A return to competitive action saw the 29 year-old sustain his goal scoring ability adding a third hat-trick of the season in the 4-1 September victory over Seattle Sounders.

His goals saw the Red Bulls make the MLS Cup playoffs, after the side finished 4th in the Eastern Conference.

The first round of the playoffs saw Wright-Phillips single handedly guide his side to victory over Sporting Kansas City as he scored both goals in a 2-1 win.

The forward then went on to score in both the semi-final aggregate victory over DC United and in the conference final against New England Revolution – but could not prevent a narrow 4-3 aggregate loss.

Wright-Phillips finished the year with 27 regular season goals and four in the playoffs. 31 goals in a remarkable year.

His performances saw him rewarded with an improved contract as he became one of the Red Bulls’ designated players (DP) for the 2015 season, allowing his wage to be considered outside the club’s salary cap.

2014 was the pinnacle of Bradley Wright-Phillips career so far. A record breaking year justifiably rewarded with a DP slot made him the most impressive Englishman abroad last year.

This year will see greater expectations resting on the forward’s slender 5’8″ frame, especially after Thierry Henry’s retirement, but all signs are saying a repeat of last year’s exploits would not be a surprise.

 

 

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