Remember that time when the New York Red Bulls signed a guy no one was all that excited about and watched him deliver a masterclass in goal scoring from March to November that stands up as one of the all-time greatest years ever enjoyed by a striker in the history of MLS?
You should: it was only last year. Everything is a little shaken up in Red Bull-land at the moment, as fans recover from watching the club knife one of its most faithful servants in the back. But some things remain (we believe) true: Bradley Wright-Phillips is still a Red Bull, and his 31-goals-in-37-appearances, record-breaking 2014 means he is under contract for 2015 as a Designated Player for RBNY.
We'll see how he fits into Jesse Marsch's ambitious plan to bring a beverage to life on a soccer pitch in due course. Until then, we have the memories of 2014 to try to nurture us through these dark days of winter.
BWP, of course, is appreciated most by RBNY fans and least by...well, pretty much the entirety of MLS. He was snubbed in MVP voting despite delivering the league's most statistically exceptional performance (Feel free to take notes, Ali: 31 goals and a Castrol Index award is, one imagines, a pretty decent analog for "performance and analysis").
And, without doing much of anything recently, he's managed to be snubbed again by the league's own website.
In an article salivating over the prospect of Jozy Altidore making a sensational return to the club that gave him his start, accompanied by Sacha Kljestan, mlssoccer.com noted the two players would doubtless be DP signings, and that RBNY conveniently has the space to accommodate two such contracts on its roster. And even a third if Tim Cahill ships out.
Wait...what about BWP? There are only three DP spots allowed, and he's got one of them. Cahill + BWP = 2, doesn't it?
Like the eagle-eyed fan said: there a few possibilities here. We could be getting four DP roster spots out of the next CBA (long rumored); the DP cut-off might be getting bumped to a place where BWP's contract no longer fits the description ("DP" after all is not a mark of super powers but merely a salary threshold); or someone at MLS simply forgot about BWP.
The former are quite likely, and Ali Curtis would know better than most since he was a league HQ employee until he decided to take a turn at becoming a pantomime villain. And those ideas have been batted around for so long, perhaps MLS's staff writers are just taking them for granted at this stage.
Most likely, however, is that it is BWP who is being taken for granted. Again. The man who lit up 2014 for RBNY will have it all to prove once more in 2015 to a new coach and a pundit-class just dying to write him off as tap-in merchant profiting off Thierry Henry's superlative creativity.
Nothing like having a point to prove to get the performance levels rising. BWP's off-season to date largely appears to consist of watching soccer...
If you're looking for a place to watch champions league football tomorrow @1RepublikNJ north Arlington is the place be— Brad Wright-Phillips (@TheRealBWP) January 6, 2015
...and generally being cheerful.
Woooooiiiiiii— Brad Wright-Phillips (@TheRealBWP) January 4, 2015
He's earned his time off, just like he earned that DP contract. And here's hoping he finds a moment to use the league's pointed refusal to acknowledge him as one of its stars to fuel the necessary focus for another extraordinary year.