New York Red Bulls striker Bradley Wright-Phillips might have tied the MLS single-season scoring record on the weekend, but the 2014 Golden Boot-winner is still largely expected to miss out on the league’s MVP award.
Wright-Phillips netted a brace in Sunday’s 2-0 win at Sporting Kansas City to finish the regular-season with 27 goals, matching the mark set previously by Roy Lassiter in 1996 and Chris Wondolowski in 2012.
However, while his prolific scoring-rate proved crucial towards sealing the club the fourth play-off seed in the Eastern Conference, the likes of Robbie Keane, Obafemi Martins and Lee Nguyen are all thought to have better odds of landing the league’s ultimate individual accolade.
Any of the trio certainly has a strong case to make, but strike-partner Thierry Henry is adamant that the Englishman deserves the award over his fellow candidates.
‘No disrespect to anyone, Bradley’s been doing that since Day one,’ the Red Bulls captain told MLSoccer.com ahead of Thursday night’s knockout-round play-off match against Sporting KC.
‘He played well from the beginning. … And the [MVP award] is for the player of the season. Player of the season, not the last three months, not the middle months, not the five first games. Player of the season. Did you play well the whole season? How many games has Bradley had? Thirty-two. That’s why for me he will get my vote.’
Ironically, many have sought to downplay Wright-Phillips’ MVP credentials because of Henry’s very presence alongside him, with critics arguing that the Frenchman’s outstanding creativity has given him an ‘unfair’ advantage over his rivals.
The Arsenal legend has rubbished those claims, however, and is delighted to see his teammate prove the doubters wrong, after coming under pressure early in the season for failing to put away his chances.
‘Now they’re all like, ‘We like him. We love him,' Henry said. ‘You perform then you’re good. If you don’t perform then you’re not good, but that’s the story of the game.
‘I’m happy for him at the end of the day. … He had an amazing season.
‘You have to poke him a bit; you have to poke him a bit, and he likes that. You can see he’s never satisfied, and that’s the type of thing you want from your goalscorer. But I was upset in that way because I’m upset he didn’t beat it.’