If it wasn’t for another strong day from Columbus goalkeeper Steve Clark, Bradley Wright-Phillips’ goal would not have loomed so large. New York would be clear to their third straight win. Instead, thanks to the Crew’s new number one, a first half penalty converted Bernardo Añor allowed to new Eastern Conference leaders to earn a 1-1 draw, with New York’s strong performance in Columbus emboldening belief the Red Bulls may be approaching their Supporters’ Shield-winning selves.
Over the past two games, however, a large amount of credit for that goes to Wright-Phillips, whose four goals since Wednesday make him a shoe-in for MLS Player of the Week. Yet whereas the former Charlton forward’s midweek performance was a mostly right place, right time show, Saturday’s contribution was Goal of the Week-worthy tally in the 66th minute. Turning on his left foot while even with the left post, 14 yards out, Wright-Phillips took one touch for a Lloyd Sam cross before firing his shot against the bottom of the far post, the ball rolling back across just inside the goal line for the Red Bulls’ equalizer.
After two goals in nine games last season, Wright-Phillips has exploded in 2014, scoring on opening day before piling on four goals over the last four days. It’s the type of presence New York was hoping for when he left England to join the team last summer, but coinciding with the team’s climb in the Eastern Conference standings, Wright-Phillips’ personal turnaround will naturally be seen as a reason for New York’s rebound. Particularly with Tim Cahill still ailing, the former Addick has picked the right time to make his first mark on Major League Soccer, a mark that sees leaves New York part of the four-team cluster that sits a point behind Columbus.
For the Crew, however, it’s another game where, despite having two or three good chances, the team’s failed to capture the magic that produced early victories against D.C. United, Philadelphia, and Seattle. Now familiar with Gregg Berhalter’s approach, opponents know they can create chances against the Crew if they’re less concerned with winning the ball than moving quickly the times they get it. Though Columbus had 56 percent of Saturday’s possession, New York had more shots on target (6-3).
The result end: a four-match winless streak; three draws in a row; four games where the Crew have failed to score multiple goals. While Columbus’s place at the top of the East make it impossible to worry too much, some fine running may be in order.