After his latest strike for the New York Red Bulls, the sign at Red Bull Arena that bears his name reads 72: the total number of MLS regular-season goals Bradley Wright-Phillips has scored for RBNY. It is a club record number of league goals, and has been for some time: Juan Pablo Angel's regular-season career haul for the Red Bulls was 58. But the sign at RBA doesn't tell the whole story. There is more to a career at RBNY than the MLS regular season, and BWP has scored more than 72 times as a Red Bull.
His most recent goal will have looked familiar to anyone who has watched BWP regularly since he joined RBNY. It was the type of goal he seems to score most often and when he is at his most confident. Felipe has played long enough with Wright-Phillips to know that a ball in space is what the striker is best at finding - an apparent pass to nowhere was met by BWP surging out of a three-man cluster of DC defenders to meet the pass. And then came the most BWP touch of the whole sequence: his first touch was his last touch.
Follow the ball and shoot first time; put it on target and see what happens: the BWP formula for scoring success.
On a great many occasions what happens is another goal for the Red Bulls all-time leading scorer. How many occasions? 80: BWP's goal against D.C. United on Saturday, April 15, 2017, was his 80th in all competitions for RBNY.
Only two other players in club history have got past 50 career goals in all competitions for the first team: JPA (62) and Thierry Henry.
Speaking of Henry, Wright-Phillip scored his 80th goal for the Red Bulls in his 135th appearance: the exact number of appearances Henry made for RBNY in all competitions. Per MetroFanatic.com:
Incidentally, BWP's 72-goal MLS regular-season career haul has drawn him level with another legendary RBNY forward: Juan Pablo Angel finished his career in the league with 72 regular-season goals (adding 14 in stints with LA Galaxy and Chivas USA to the 58 he scored for the Red Bulls). Per mlssoccer.com:
|Juan Pablo Angel
BWP's goals/90 minutes average of 0.71 is currently the highest of any player in the MLS all-time top 25 regular-season scorers.
Perhaps it is for the best that RBNY chooses only to track the number of regular-season goals Wright-Phillips has scored for the club. Though he has scored 80 for the Red Bulls, the sign with his name on it at Red Bull Arena acknowledges only 72. To get it to read 80 in 2017, he'll need another eight - and that means he'll need to crack double-digit goals for the season for the fourth consecutive year.
The sign will always be a little behind BWP's true career scoring total for RBNY, always challenging him to get a few more - and quickly, before he adds more goals in other competitions and further distances the RBA sign from his true Red Bulls scoring record.
As the team's greatest-ever goal scorer, it seems fitting that there is an unbridgeable gap between RBNY's effort to honor his record and the true tally of goals he has scored for the club. In its own way, it underscores the fact that his primary competition right now is himself.