Sunday’s historic first meeting between the New York Red Bulls and expansion side New York City FC saw Bradley Wright-Phillips rise to the occasion with a display which proved worthy of the MLS Player of the Week award.
The English striker struck either side of half-time, as the home side survived a 36th-minute red card for centre-back Matt Miazga to claim a 2-1 win over their new neighbours at a packed Red Bull Arena.
He should have even grabbed a hat-trick in the 65th-minute when he raced in one-on-one with NYCFC goalkeeper Josh Saunders, but the opposition’s star man on the night was equal to the task with an impressive save.
Substitute Patrick Mullins later set up a tense finish when he pulled one back for the visitors 14 minutes from time but Wright-Phillips’ brace was enough in the end to earn the Red Bulls bragging rights until at least next month’s second encounter at Yankee Stadium.
After a 2014 campaign that saw him tie the league’s single-season scoring record with 27 goal, some doubted whether the former Southampton and Charlton Athletic man would be able to continue his fine form into this term but, with five goals in nine games now, things have so far gone to plan.
Even without the recently-retired Thierry Henry, who teed him up on numerous occasions, the 30-year-old front man has still been able to exploits MLS defences and, what is more impressive, has even added an extra creative dimension to his game as the new focal point of his side’s attack, grabbing three assists so far.
He might not be the mercurial Frenchman but, for the Red Bulls, he’ll more than do.