Bradley Wright-Phillips

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Red Bulls fall again, on the road at New England

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The defending champions are struggling under new management, and so are the defending Supporters Shield winners.

New York remains with just five points on the season after falling at Eastern Conference rivals New England 1-0 on Saturday. On a rainy night in Gillette Stadium, there was just enough offense for the hosts to squeak by, while the visitors had no end product on a forgettable evening.

After a listless first half that featured little for fans to savor, New England bagged the winning moment with 17 minutes to go. On the break, substitute Cristian Penilla blasted a right-footed shot past Luis Robles in somewhat innocuous fashion. It’s one the goalkeeper will want back, and given the 21 total shots on the night, not exactly the best chance of the evening.

With the loss, New York remains in 10th on just five points through the first seven games of the season, the same amount defending champions Atlanta United has sitting one position lower. Neither side has been able to repeat the form they had in last year’s award-winning season. Chris Armas has seen the team perform in spurts at best, and while the -1 goal differential maybe suggests the points total will improve, it’s still a far cry from what last year provided.

While the defense has lost its way at times, the Red Bulls attack has been the biggest culprit to this point, and that reared its head again tonight. The Red Bulls created 10 chances, but only one of those was a big chance, and they struggled in one-on-one situations, successful in just five of their 18 attempted take-ons. Bradley Wright-Phillips was isolated up front and while Armas clearly set the build-up so he would be a factor in the air, BWP struggled mightily in that department, winning just five of 18 aerial duels.

NY Red Bulls falter late, fail to capture first away victory

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Both teams held a lead over the course of the 90, but the New York Red Bulls will most rue wasting the points as they conceded in the 88th minute to drop points in a 2-2 draw with Sporting KC. Gianluca Busio tapped in the critical goal, giving the home fans something to cheer about while condemning the visitors to yet another disappointing road trip.

New York looked to have found the breakthrough in the 17th minute, but Michael Murillo’s shot came with both Bradley Wright-Phillips and Cristian Casseres Jr. were clearly in an offside position as the shot snuck through to the back post. That would prove costly as the hosts went down the other end and went in front minutes later.

Off a 24th minute throw-in, Krisztian Nemeth collected with his back to goal and fed a streaking Johnny Russell who broke along the end line and powered home a low drive from a tight angle. It was more of the same for the Red Bulls who have suffered through defensive lapses this young season, failing to win a road game to this point and losing three straight coming in.

In the second half, the Red Bulls brought things back level courtesy of Sporting KC’s absurdly high line. With the defenders almost at the halfway line, Daniel Royer made a run down the left and Casseres pinged a perfect ball right in stride. With Royer completely free on goal, he touched around Tim Melia and finished from a tight angle.

Sporting KC came extremely close to retaking the lead soon after, but Russell fired wide with a great opportunity to strike. Surprisingly, with 19 minutes to go, Red Bulls boss Chris Armas withdrew Wright-Phillips in favor of 23-year-old striker Brian White. The change paid off almost immediately for the visitors. Another high back line saw Kaku deliver a delicious ball from the deep left flank and White reached it before his mark Matt Besler, heading the ball into the far post for his first goal this season.

Unfortunately for Armas, the defense faltered late yet again. A set-piece goal tied it late in the 88th minute, as Graham Zusi collected a punch from Luis Robles and fired a shot towards goal that deflected right to the feet of Gianluca Busio for an easy tap-in on the line. That brought the game back level and scuppered New York’s chance for its first away win of the season.

To boot, Kaku was sent off in the 94th minute was sent off for blasting the ball into the crowd from close range on the touchline, earning him a petulant red card that could affect New York’s selection in the near future.

With the draw, the Red Bulls have just five points on the young season, with just one win to boast. Sporting KC, meanwhile, would also rue losing a lead, but the point pushed them to seventh in the West with nine points.

Atlanta 3-0 New York: Hosts decisive after VAR denies BWP

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For a moment, it appeared Atlanta was truly snake-bitten against the New York Red Bulls. After a dominant first half found them 1-0 up, it appeared Bradley Wright-Phillips had grabbed an away goal soon after the break and given New York life. VAR wiped off the goal, and the hosts went on to a deserved 3-0 victory.

The decision – a correct one by the letter of the law – was surely an enormous moment in this two-legged matchup, and paved the way for a 3-0 Atlanta victory that left Tata Martino with 90 minutes between he and a spot in the MLS playoff final.

Martinez struck just past the half-hour mark, as Tim Parker midjudged a ball into the box from Jeff Larentowicz, and as it floated over the head of the New York defender, it fell to Martinez who settled and finished calmly. Atlanta held over 60% possession in the first half, and held New York to just one shot, with Bradley Wright-Phillips neutralized.

After the break, New York proved far more threatening, and they looked to have drawn level. In the 54th minute, a free-kick flew into the box and eventually came to Wright-Phillips at the top of the box. BWP fired low and to the left, past a helpless Brad Guzan and into the back of the net. After a long delay, VAR ruled out the goal, and while it took some time deducing the reason for the call, it became clear that Alex Muyl was in an offside position and screening Guzan. While the Atlanta goalkeeper likely would not have reached the shot regardless of Muyl’s positioning, the rule was clear and the call was correct.

New York began to slowly work down the possessional advantage for the home side, but struggled to create more big chances. Midfield giveaways proved deadly, and Atlanta used a turnover to move two goals in front. Miguel Almiron threaded in a streaking Julian Gressel who came flying down the left flank, and his cutback across the space in the box was just behind Martinez but came to Franco Escobar who unleashed a howitzer into the top-right corner.

The hosts came close to a third on multiple occasions. Almiron fired across the face of goal wide on a breakaway with nine minutes remaining. Robles also had to make a near-post save in the 87th minute to deny substitute Hector Villalba. Then, the best chance just fell short as Villalba hit the post after toasting two defenders on the break. Finally, the third came in added time as Escobar fed a great through-ball to Villalba who struck with his left foot and slid it inside the left post.

It’s the first victory for Atlanta United in five tries all-time against New York, and a huge one as New York will need a massive comeback to find a way into the MLS final. The second leg will take place Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Columbus shocks Red Bulls with 1-0 first-leg win

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A Gyasi Zardes goal was the lone strike in a surprising result as the Major League Soccer playoffs get under way.

New York, fresh off its last-day Supporters’ Shield victory, was held goalless in the first leg of its matchup against Columbus on Sunday. Bradley Wright-Phillips nearly netted a last-gasp equalizer that would have completely changed the complexity of the matchup, but New York instead heads back home with work to do.

The lone goal came in the 67th minute as Milton Valenzuela threaded a pinpoint pass to Federico Higuain who had come off the bench at halftime. The Crew star produced a fabulous assist, back-heeling to a streaking Zardes who finished one-on-one.

There were two moments late that could have defined the match. First, Luis Robles was there to produce a stop on Pedro Santos in the 89th minute that would have left New York with even more ground to make up back home. Then, in the 93rd minute, Wright-Phillips got his head to a wonderful Kaku delivery into the box and flicked the ball towards the corner, but Zack Steffan made a brilliant diving save to turn the effort away and preserve the victory.

New York was a significant favorite in the two-legged match, having clipped Atlanta United on the final day of the regular season for the most points in the league. They collected 22 wins over the course of the season, but struggled against Columbus, earning just a single point in their two meetings, including a 1-1 road draw and a 3-2 loss at Red Bull Arena in late July.

Columbus kept New York at bay by holding 58% of the possession and conceding just nine total shots, two on target. The home side generated just six shots of its own, but managed to put one of its two on target into the back of the net.

BWP set to miss big clash after yellow for swearing

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Bradley Wright-Phillips would like referees to consider his adulthood.

The New York Red Bulls’ super striker is going to miss a massive MLS clash with Atlanta United last weekend due to yellow card accumulation. RBNY is four points behind Atlanta in the race for the Supporters’ Shield with four matches each to play.

[ MORE: 2 Robbies on Mourinho, Man Utd ]

BWP was given a yellow for swearing at a linesman during RBNY’s 2-0 win over Toronto FC on Saturday.

Though we don’t know what he said and certainly don’t condone swearing at officials, the player didn’t make a show of it (something that earned Jozy Altidore a second yellow in a USMNT shirt a few years ago).

A fine is coming Wright-Phillips’ way for this one:

“It’s ridiculous man, it’s too big. We’re men. If you can’t take a swear word and what really happened then we’re in the wrong sport man, it’s ridiculous,” he said. “If someone said that to me, I wouldn’t even be like…I’d be like ‘Sorry, I missed.’ It’s a yellow card. The guy was having a nightmare all game. Nightmare.”

One thing that BWP is missing: It’s not the AR’s duty to know you’ll miss a game with a yellow. Still, this is a huge disadvantage for the Red Bulls on Sept. 30 at home.