As tipped by no less a source than Bradley Wright-Phillips (as related by MetroFanatic.com), his brother Shaun is going west for 2017. The 35-year-old former England international has officially joined Phoenix Rising FC.
NEWS: PHX Rising FC signs @swp29 for the 2017 season. https://t.co/On3qXeZEPU #RisingAsOne pic.twitter.com/5TrBpRsjah— Phoenix Rising FC (@PHXRisingFC) February 24, 2017
The recently-rebranded (it used to be named Arizona United SC) USL outfit is stacking its roster with unusually high-profile names for the coming season. Shaun Wright-Phillips joins former Mexico international Omar Bravo in Phoenix for 2017. The club also has Jordan Stewart on its books, briefly an England youth international and most recently signed with San Jose Earthquakes. And it is coached by two-time MLS Cup winner and the MLS Coach of the Year in 2001 and 2012, Frank Yallop.
Backed by an ambitious investment group that includes Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz, LA Dodgers' pitcher Brandon McCarthy, and ubiquitous musician and impresario Diplo, Phoenix RIsing hopes to be included in a future round of MLS Expansion. It would appear a calculated step in the direction of the American first division is provisioning the roster with the sort of players who will attract attention to the club. Bravo and SWP will at least make soccer fans in Mexico and England aware that Phoenix Rising FC exists - as well as likely attracting curious fans to watch the team wherever it travels this season.
SWP has spent the last two seasons in the unaccustomed role of lesser Wright-Phillips. His younger brother, Bradley, is the New York Red Bulls all-time leading scorer and is a star in MLS. SWP is the more accomplished Wright-Phillips in terms of his overall career - having played for England and made an impact in the Premier League for Manchester City and Chelsea - but he was very much second fiddle to his brother at RBNY.
SWP made 25 appearances in all competitions for the Red Bulls, scoring one goal.
His only assist for the first team was to his free-scoring brother.
Considered a positive presence in training and the locker room, the veteran Wright-Phillips was part of two successful seasons with RBNY. The team won the MLS Supporters' Shield in 2015 and finished first in the Eastern Conference in 2016. Out of contract at the end of last season, he should find more time on the field in Phoenix.