One game, 100 words (or less): Bradley Wright-Phillips’ chances of history received a huge boost Saturday night, with his team’s playoff hopes rising along with them. With three goals before the hour-mark, MLS’s leading scorer pushed his team to a 4-1 victory over visiting Seattle – a win that ensures last year’s Supporters’ Shield winners will stay in the East’s top five for at least one more week.
Wright-Phillips opened the scoring in the first minute, though it would be another 52 before the New York sniper added his second of the night from the spot. On a counter attack in the 56th minute, Wright-Phillips scored his 24th goal of the season, leaving him three short of MLS’s single-season scoring mark.
A quick swap of goals by Clint Dempsey and Tim Cahill provided the night’s final pieces of excitement, with a Seattle team that made major chances from its mid-week U.S. Open Cup triumph falling hard at Red Bull Arena.
New York: Wright-Phillips 1′, 53′, 56′, Cahill 65′
Seattle: Dempsey 61′
Three moments that mattered:
1′ – 29 seconds – Any fear Seattle had over-rotated its team were emboldened after 29 seconds, when Stefan Frei’s block of an Ambroise Oyongo shot gave New York’s leading scorer a chance from eight yards out. Forgotten moments earlier by a Seattle’s defense, Bradley Wright-Phillips was rewarded for initially setting up Oyongo, putting the rebound into the open net to give New York a ridiculously early lead.
53′ – Inexperience shows – Dylan Remick showed promise earlier this season when he was starting ahead of Leo Gonzalez, but after beating beaten by Lloyd Sam in the 53rd minute, the 23-year-old showed he’s not beyond a few rookie mistakes. As Sam, near the byline, turned toward the middle of the penalty area, Remick made a desperation lunge, taking out Sam just inside the box. Wright-Phillips fired his spot kick past Frei to give New York a two-goal lead.
56′ – Not Djimi’s night – Djimi Traore had a strange moment in the first half. Running under a long ball from Luis Robles, Traore kicked Wright-Phillips in the backside after desperately trying to compensate for his error. It’s not often that you see a defender run himself into position to kick an opponent in the butt.
It was the start of a bad night. Just before the hour, with Seattle having just gave up a second goal, Traore failed to adjust as Wright-Phillips drifted away from Chad Marshall. As New York countered down its left, Roy Miller played a long, diagonal ball between the defense and goal, one that saw Traore in no position to contest Wright-Phillips’ third goal.
Later, after Seattle had reduced the lead to two, a poor clearance by Traore allowed Tim Cahill to put his name on the scoresheet, a ball played right to the Australian international allowing him to finishing inside Frei’s right post.
New York: Robles; Duvall, Olave, Sekagya, Miller (Christenson 84′); Sam, McCarty, Alexander; Oyongo; Henry (Stevenson 92′), Wright-Phillips (Cahill 58′)
Seattle: Frei; Anibaba, Marshall, Traore, Remick; Neagle, Rose, Alonso (Pineda 80′), Pappa; Cooper (Dempsey 60′), Barrett (Martins 59′)
Three lessons going forward:
1. Depth’s nice, when you don’t have to use it all – Yes, Seattle over-rotated, but perhaps Sigi Schmid felt it was necessary. Maybe the Seattel staff felt it was worth risking a loss to reduce the minutes for five or six of his regulars.
Regardless, the Sounders’ depth didn’t hold up. Though the team looked fine for much of the first half, mistakes that distinguish first choice players from useless depth cost Seattle. The Supporters’ Shield race could tighten up.
2. Djimi Traore looks done – Traore was a valuable addition at the beginning of last season, but he was one of the culprits as Seattle lost to Portland in the playoffs. This season, Zach Scott seems to have won the spot next to Chad Marshall, though if there was any lingering feeling a healthy Traore should start, tonight said otherwise.
3. BWP within reach – Three goals in five games is a lot, but after his third hat trick of the season, Wright-Phillips is on pace. Averaging one goal every 88.9 minutes this season, Wright-Phillips’ needs just under three games to tie the record, at his current rate. If Wright-Phillips stays on his season-long pace, Roy Lassiter and Chris Wondolowski will lose their spots in MLS’s record book.
Where they stand now:
- With the win, New York has a three-point lead on fifth place Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference. Should Columbus hold on to beat New England, New York’s lead on fifth goes back down to one.
- For Seattle, this is a game to forget, mostly because the team continues to control its Supporters’ Shield destiny. The Sounders remain three points up on the Galaxy, and after LA’s done with Dallas tonight, Seattle will again have a match-in-hand.