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Report: New York Red Bulls discussing contract extension with Bradley Wright-Phillips

He'll be a hard man to replace when he's gone, and RBNY seems sensibly inclined to kick that can down the road for a while.

Matthew Stith

Reporting for Metro (no relation), the RBNY beat's resident scoop-whisperer, Kristian Dyer, has coaxed an anonymous source into revealing that Bradley Wright-Phillips and the New York Red Bulls are in talks about a contract extension for the player.

It was Dyer who broke the news last year that BWP's 2016 scoring spree (he won the MLS Golden Boot for the second time in his career and became the only player in league history to have two 20-goal seasons) had triggered an automatic contract extension. More recently, it was revealed Wright-Phillips had secured permanent residency in the US, making him a domestic player for MLS purposes and meaning he no longer occupies one of the limited spots for international players on the RBNY roster.

BWP turned 32 on March 12, which makes him a little (OK, a lot) older than the youth-prioritizing Red Bulls tend to favor for their squad. But he is also the most productive goal scorer the club and MLS has even seen over a sustained period. BWP tied the MLS single-season scoring record in 2014, tied the league's back-to-back-season scoring record in 2015, and broke the record for goals scored over three consecutive seasons in 2016. Throw in the aforementioned fact he's the first (and only, so far) player to break 20 regular-season goals twice in a career in MLS - and there simply has never been a goal scorer in MLS better than BWP.

In three seasons, he has changed what it means to be a high-caliber scorer in MLS, and completely changed what it means for RBNY. To date, BWP has scored 78 goals in all competitions for the Red Bulls; the next-highest is Juan Pablo Angel's 62-goal career haul for the club.

There is no obvious successor to Wright-Phillips' productivity for RBNY, so it makes a lot of sense that the team would seek to keep him around while he is still very much capable of performing at a standard few in MLS have ever approached. Once he's gone, a lot of Red Bulls fans may have to get used to the idea that 68 league goals in three seasons is exceptional. RBNY might have some very good strikers after BWP has left the club, but they will do well not to struggle to match the legacy left by the Red Bulls' best-ever goal scorer.

Per Dyer, RBNY is discussing a "multi-year" deal with Wright-Phillips. That is encouraging news. Fans would do well, however, to note that the last senior player to sign a high-profile extension with RBNY was Dax McCarty - who re-upped for four years with the club at the beginning of 2016. McCarty plays for Chicago Fire now. Lest we forget, a multi-year contract extension is also a way of ensuring a player has trade value.