Wright-Phillips keeps scoring -- and on a penalty, too
When the New York Red Bulls were given a penalty in the 11th minute -- and Bradley Wright-Phillips subsequently converted -- it felt like cosmic justice.
The Red Bulls have been on the wrong side of too many penalties this year, some of them earned and some of them not. The fact that they started what was practically a must-win game with spot kick felt like things might just go the Red Bulls way.
Oh, and Wright-Phillips' conversion? That's his 21st on the season, only six away from the single season record with eight games to play.
The enormity of the win can't be understated
For most of the season, the Red Bulls just couldn't get it done. They were stuck in second gear. Every time they had an opportunity to get going, they'd falter. It was like they were stuck in a perpetual preseason. It was hard to watch.
And lately, they really started to skid. A shorthanded comeback win over the New England Revolution was followed up with a loss to the Chicago Fire. Another comeback win over the Montreal Impact was followed with a loss to D.C. United. Before it felt like they might be able to get going if they just found some rhythm. Heading into Saturday night's game, it felt like there was a good chance they wouldn't even start.
But they won. They got the three points. They're back in the playoff picture and with eight games left to play, the majority of them at home.
Is the 4-3-3 the future?
Something was clearly stale with the Red Bulls, and tonight's formation shift, while not the source of tonight's victory, could provide the change the Red Bulls need to start stringing together some victories.
Sometimes a change is needed. Dax McCarty is clearly better as a destroyer shielding the back four, while Thierry Henry on the wing can utilize his playmaking abilities, while keeping him closer to goal. If Wright-Phillips keeps getting the service he's been getting all season, he can operate as a lone forward (not that he hasn't been doing that already, with how deep Henry's been dropping). Lloyd Sam, as we saw tonight, can put in the work defensively to help lock down the wing. It's certainly worth a try for a team that could use a change.