MLS Focus: Bradley Wright-Phillips earns respect and place in record books

When he came to MLS in 2013 to play for the New York Red Bulls, Bradley Wright-Phillips was at the end of the line.

Wright-Phillips had scored 77 goals over nine league seasons for five clubs -- "Not bad for a terrible player in England," he notes -- but he struggled following in the footsteps of his father, former Arsenal star Ian Wright, and older brother Shaun Wright-Phillips and was without a team.

The Red Bulls were probably his last chance, and things didn't go particularly well in his first season with just one goal in seven games in 2013. Since then, no striker in MLS has been better.

On Wednesday, No. 99 scored No. 100, becoming the fastest player to the century mark in MLS history. After a 87-rain delay at new Audi Field, BWP scored in the 2nd minute.

He celebrated by taking off his No. 99 jersey to show a No. 100 jersey he was wearing underneath it. He had thought of wearing a tee-shirt with the No. 100 on it, but the Red Bulls' equipment manager presented him with a specially designed jersey.

The only problem was he had to wear the two jerseys the rest of the game in the D.C. heat, but he got through the game and the goal held up for a 1-0 win, the Red Bulls' third victory in a row under new coach Chris Armas and their sixth in their last seven games.

What did the goal mean to BWP?

"It maybe says I wasn't a waste of money," he joked.

More seriously, Wright-Phillips gave a nod to the Red Bulls, who signed him after falling to the third level of English soccer at Brentford and not being happy with himself and soccer.

“I’m obviously happy, not just to score 100 goals, but to do it for this club,” he said after the win. “They gave me a chance.”

Playing in the shadows of Thierry Henry, an Arsenal legend like his father, BWP went to work and didn't look back. In 2014, he scored 27 goals, tying the MLS single-season record and scored 17, 24 and 17 goals over the next three seasons. His 14 goals in 2018 are second in MLS to runaway leader Josef Martinez.

Wright-Phillips says he didn't mind Henry getting all the limelight in 2013-14, but he's always struggled to get respect.

"I don't know how my respect I get now," he said. "To be totally honest, I don't care."

Maybe 100 goals in 159 games will change that.
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