(The Red Bulls celebrate the game-winning goal – Photo by Jason Schott)
Bradley Wright-Phillips was honored on Sunday night for being the quickest to 100 goals in MLS history, but it was his assist on what turned out to be the game-winning goal made the difference in their 2-1 win over Los Angeles Football Club at Red Bull Arena.
With the win, the Red Bulls move back into second place in the Eastern Conference, as they are now 14-2-6, with 44 points, the same point total as NYCFC (13-5-5, 44 points), but they own the edge in goal differential, 21 to 16.
Daniel Royer led the way for the Red Bulls, with a pair of goals in this one, giving him eight goals on the season.
Royer’s first goal came in the 40th minute when he came down the left, dropped it off for Kaku, who then found Michael Murillo coming down the right side.
Murillo fired it toward the net, where it bounced off a couple of LAFC defenders to Royer, who was on the ground after a slide, and he swung out his right leg to get off a shot, and it found the left corner of the net.
LAFC tied it in the 53rd minute when Diego Rossi slipped past a pair of Red Bulls defenders to get a feed from Carlos Vela and bury it.
In the 80th minute, it was Wright-Phillips who outlasted LA’s defense down the field along the right side to get an opening, but he passed up a shot and instead sent a cross to Royer coming down the center, and he sent it home to make it 2-1 Red Bulls.
Red Bulls Head Coach Chris Armas said of Wright-Phillips setting up Royer, ” It’s perfect. It’s better than him scoring. You know, he’s going to score lots more goals for this team. He does it consistently.
“But to see it — the run, to stay on-side, to know his chances are going to come. He had a couple looks tonight, put himself in good spots, he stays patient, he knows he’s going to get the chance, and before the game, every knew that the most important thing tonight for Brad tonight was three points. It was said.
“To see it end that way, it’s great. The game-winning play he makes, at sift, I think it’s really fitting that he puts it in a really good way for Danny, but I think we can also appreciate the running, the pressing, the coming back into the game. I’m watching him sprint down the field when he sees Kaku is out of the spot and he’s just a giver this way.
“Again, in our world here in professional sports, you don’t always see that; the superstar, the guy, the goal scorer, to work and work so much and run so much for the team. It’s a thing of beauty, really. Congrats to Brad and for the three points and for the recognition that he received tonight. So deserved.”
Wright-Phillips said of his decision to set up Royer, “He’s in a better position than me — maybe I can score but he has a better chance to score. I think it’s the obvious decision.”
LAFC Head Coach Bob Bradley said of the game, and of the late Red Bulls game-winner, ” Hard-fought game. Difficult conditions. I thought we did a good job to get back to 1-1 and really lost the game — we have a real chance now from our end, but we still make some mistakes. Bradley Wright-Phillips started running between Jordan (Harvey) and Laurent (Ciman), and we don’t do a good enough job and I hate to see.”
Armas played for Bradley for four years with the Chicago Fire, and he said of what is it was like to manage against him, “What’s it like to manage against Bob Bradley? Managing against Bob Bradley and his staff, we know really well, was preparing against Bob Bradley and his staff.
“So on the day, there’s little adjustments made and with what they do and some of our pressing, we mixed it up here and there, it was really trying to really understand their team, how they can hurt us and how we can hurt them. There’s a lot to their team. You see how far — he still continues to teach us as we watch his team play.
“I think overall with Bob Bradley and his staff, we go way back. There’s such a love and respect that we have for each other, so just seeing him before the game was the best part of it. Just catching up for a few minutes, so for me, that was the special part about it. The game itself, you know, I was really focused on the game.
Armas said of how important it was to get this win and how your team gutted it out tonight, “Well, yeah, look, we didn’t get home — it’s a must. You have to win at home, and the guys, they get the credit because they used the energy of each other; the fans start chanting, and you can feel it coming. It could have went the other way but our guys hung in there and they pushed. I think we saw belief that if we can keep putting out fires on one end; that both teams are tired and we created a few chances. How important is that win, that win at home, we just came off a tough loss at home where, in the second half, the guys showed a lot of fight and courage.
“When you see some teams lose that game 4-0, 5-0, 6-0, we’ve seen it. So to see the really good start that we had tonight, and then guys to have to really stay together and push and get the late one, it was great.
“Then you see some of the other results this weekend, so we’re probably in a pretty good spot based on the three points.”
Knicks Center Enes Kanter took the field at halftime:
Tommy Redding: Before Sunday’s game, the Red Bulls placed defender Tommy Redding on season-ending injury reserve. Redding underwent successful surgery to reconstruct his left shoulder last week with team doctors at the Hospital for Special Surgery.
Additionally, Vincent Bezecourt suffered an MCL sprain in his right knee in last Friday’s USL match against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Bezecourt will be re-evaluated in the coming weeks.