The New York Red Bulls poured seven goals into NYCFC's nets at Yankee Stadium, and there was therefore the possibility this game might been a let down. Such fears proved groundless: RBNY picked up at home where they had left off in the Bronx, steam-rollering over Toronto FC as Bradley Wright-Phillips scored his first hat trick of the season to lead his team to a 3-0 victory.
When the Red Bulls got the first goal of the match at Yankee Stadium it was scored in the 3rd minute; at home against TFC, RBNY made fans wait a whole minute longer. In the 4th minute, Felipe was fouled just outside the area along the far side. Sacha Kljestan took the free kick, finding a leaping BWP, who headed the ball past a standing Clint Irwin.
The RBNY striker's second of the night came in the 25th minute: once again, Kljestan was involved, punching the ball through the back line for BWP to chase. Wright-Phillips had defenders to beat, but craftily used them as a screen, beating Irwin inside the near post with a shot that sent Red Bull Arena into raptures.
Two minutes later, BWP was at it again. Mike Grella collected a pass from Felipe, let Wright-Phillips get back onside and then crossed for the forward to fire past Irwin for his first hat trick of the season - and a new MLS record:
NEW @MLS RECORD for @TheRealBWP for the fastest hat trick to start a game in 27 minutes. Previous record s Dwayne Rosario in 2011 (31 min).— Jason Baum (@JasonBaumPR) May 28, 2016
Not only did Bradley Wright-Phillips achieve this record tonight, but at the same time he passed his former teammate and Arsenal legend Thierry Henry - pushing the Frenchman down to third on third on the club's list of all-time regular-season goal scorers. Henry registered 51 league goals in his RBNY career; Bradley Wright-Phillips is now second on the list with 53, five shy of Juan Pablo Angel who leads the club with 58.
The Red Bulls have been in fine form these last three games: eleven goals scored, none conceded, three consecutive wins. Further, the team that lost six of its first seven matches in MLS 2016 has now lost just once in its last seven games. RBNY will go to the Copa America Group Stage break (the league is taking a breather while the CONMEBOL/CONCACAF summer showpiece gets underway) as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
This game wasn't all positive for RBNY. In the forty-third minute, Gonzalo Veron was sent off by Allen Chapman for coming down hard on Marco Delgado with both feet. Playing a man down brought an almost immediate challenge for Luis Robles when the second half kicked off.
A foul in the box saw TFC win a penalty in the 47th minute. Will Johnson took over the spot kicking duties as Sebastian Giovinco was subbed off due to injury in the first half. Johnson would convert, but his shot was called back due to encroachment by his teammates. On the second attempt, Robles made the save by diving to his right, protecting the clean sheet.
After the 1-6 start to the season and now going 5-1-1, how does Jesse Marsch feel about his club?
"Obviously very different than the beginning of the year. Truly feel like we've put that behind us now and we've made a great push in the last seven games, getting a lot of good performances. Starting to really feel and look like us. So I think we use the hard times to make us better. So obviously very happy with the last couple months."
Now the team can take a break from league action and relax as the Copa America Centenario will begin on Friday, June 3rd. The next competitive match for RBNY will, however, mean they must watch this coming Wednesday's US Open Cup 3rd Round Action to see if they have to travel to Western NY to face the Rochester Rhinos or host one of the Cosmopolitan League's best sides in Lansdowne Bhoys of Yonkers, NY.