It wasn't until Bradley Wright-Phillips came to MLS that he came into his own.
When he joined the Red Bulls in the middle of the 2013 season, Wright-Phillips was best known as the
son of Ian Wright and younger brother of Shaun Wright-Phillips. He played 11 seasons in England but most of his career was spent bouncing back and forth between the second and third
In his first full season with the Red
Bulls, BWP scored 27 goals, tying the MLS single-season record held by Roy Lassiter and Chris Wondolowski.
But after he broke the Red Bulls' record with his 19th and 20th
goals of the season in late August 2014, his teammate, the great Thierry Henry, talked about the chances he missed in the 4-2 win over Montreal.
“I think he should’ve
have done that after 10 games into the season," Henry said of Wright-Phillips' 20 season goals. "He scored two and missed five."
Respect has been slow in coming for BWP, and Jesse Marsch, his coach at the Red Bulls since 2015, says he deserves better.
"You could make an argument that he is the best player to ever play in this league and the best goal-scorer to ever play in this league," said Marsch after the 3-0 win over Minnesota United on
Saturday. "And he should be treated as such, OK, by everyone, including referees. If we are talking about protecting the star players and making sure that we're protecting attacking players. I've made
this argument for four years with Brad, that he doesn't get the respect that he deserves."
Marsch was speaking after he watched BWP score two golazos -- a flying no-look volley and
a crisp strike in stride off a pass from Alex Muyl -- to give him three goals in three MLS games. BWP also scored three goals in the Red Bulls' first three Concacaf Champions League games, then
assisted on all three goals in the 3-1 win that moved them into the semifinals against Guadalajara.
"He can score with his head and off set pieces," said Marsch, "and he can score
with speed, with cleverness, with his left foot, just about anyway, and he could have had a hat trick when he hit the post, right."
Marsch says BWP doesn't care he doesn't get the
respect he deserves.
"He's just going to go out and do his thing and show every day what he's about," he said. "So, yeah, I mean, he's incredible. He's incredible. He should be
underrated. He should be the most underrated player in league history. That should be his moniker because he proves every night how good he is."