The Red Bulls went into their final game of the regular campaign knowing they needed to match FC Dallas’ result against the San Jose Earthquakes and reacted accordingly, racing into a 2-0 lead by the 35th-minute through goals from Wright-Phillips’ young brother Bradley and Sacha Kljestan.
The game stayed that way until the 78th-minute, when Gilberto pulled one back for Chicago to set up a tense finish as Dallas led San Jose 2-1, but Jesse Marsch’s men held on in the end to finish with the best record in MLS – 18 wins, six draws and 10 defeats – and lift just the second piece of silverware in the club’s history.
After losing key men Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill in the winter, as well as controversially firing fan favourite head coach Mike Petke, most predicted 2015 to be a rebuilding year for the franchise but they instead go into the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and will hold home field advantage should they advance to the MLS Cup final in December.
The older Wright-Phillips sibling, who turned 34 on Sunday, has played a small role in their success, meanwhile, having scored one goal in one start and 11 substitute appearances since linking up with his brother at the club in July, including a 15-minute cameo in the win in Chicago.
A free agent in the summer after leaving Queens Park Rangers at the end of his contract, the former Manchester City and Chelsea winger had originally only travelled to New York for Bradley’s wedding but he was later convinced to stay by head coach Marsch following a brief training stint.
While he has struggled to break into the starting XI so far, the ex-England international will certainly not be regretting his decision to pen a permanent deal if the Red Bulls do end up securing another piece of silverware come December with a first-ever MLS Cup title.