For the better part of five years, Bradley Wright-Phillips has been the engine that never ceases to churn for the New York Red Bulls attack.
The Englishman that wears kit number 99 continued to cement his legacy with the MLS side on Tuesday night as Wright-Phillips added another two goals to his growing tally, which now stands at 94 in all competitions.
BWP — as Red Bulls faithful know him — recorded a brace after the 75th minute to help the Red Bulls reach the U.S. Open Cup final in Cincinnati, including once in extra time.
While Wright-Phillips certainly played a key role in the comeback, the striker emphasized his side’s “character” after they went down 1-0.
“It felt massive,” said Wright-Phillips. “When we went two goals down it was going take something special but if there’s one team that can do it. It’s not me being biased, it’s us. We have a lot of character, we’re a fit team and situations like that seem to suit us. As soon as we go a goal down, I don’t like it but sometimes we just turn into a different animal. Today, it was no different.”
Manager Jesse Marsch and the Red Bulls have come under scrutiny in the past for not showing up in big matches, particularly when the MLS Cup playoffs roll around.
The Red Bulls have finished atop the Eastern Conference in back-to-back seasons leading into 2017 under Marsch, however, the club has come up empty in the postseason.
Tuesday night’s comeback win over Cincinnati is a positive step for the club in terms of how the Red Bulls handle adversity in the biggest of matches.
“I think it’s been a very long time and I read things all the time about New York Red Bulls don’t win trophies or even some of their fans were saying we were going to choke into the semifinals,” Wright-Phillips said. “So it’s just good to get over this hurdle here and prove to people that we are a team that we’re learning and we’re getting better.”
Marsch and Co. trailed 2-0 with under half an hour remaining at Nippert Stadium, but a gutsy performance from Wright-Phillips and the rest of the Red Bulls crew ensured the team that they’d play in the their second Open Cup final in club history (first occurred in 2003 when Red Bulls were previously the MetroStars).
The Red Bulls will move on to the tournament’s finale next month when they take on Sporting KC at Children’s Mercy Park.Follow @MattReedFutbol