Meet Bradley Wright-Phillips: The Quiet, Rarely Flashy Forward Taking over MLS

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJuly 23, 2014

May 17, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips (99) plays a cross against the Toronto FC at BMO Field. The FC beat the Red Bulls 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

When you picture a forward who scores goals at will, you usually see a flashy, electric player in your mind who on occasion delivers the over-the-top goal celebration.

Bradley Wright-Phillips is the complete opposite of that image, but he does not lack the killer instinct in front of goal, even at 5'8".

The New York Red Bulls forward has been on fire in 2014 with 17 goals in 19 games, 16 of those having been starts, which puts him 10 goals behind the current Major League Soccer single-season scoring record held by Chris Wondolowski and Roy Lassiter.

"I say this every time I get interviewed, I just try to get my shots on target. If they go in, they go in," Wright-Phillips told Bleacher Report after his team's July 16 game against the Philadelphia Union.

The 29-year-old Englishman has done just that with 17 of his 35 shots on target beating opposing keepers so far this season.

Wright-Phillips, who arrived at the club in July 2013, credits a certain mindset that all English forwards have, no matter how flashy their style may be in front of goal, for his success.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

"I think growing up in England strikers are hungry to just get goals. We have a mean streak in us. We like to get goals. Every striker from England I know is the same; they're greedy and they want to get goals. It must be something to do with that."

That mentality would explain why Wright-Phillips is currently one of three English forwards in the top five of the scoring chart. Dom Dwyer, who is now famous for his selfie goal celebration, has bagged 14 goals for Sporting Kansas City, while Jermain Defoe has scored on 11 occasions this season for Toronto FC.

Another player whom fans of the English Premier League are familiar with, Robbie Keane of the LA Galaxy, is fifth on the chart with 10 goals.

Although he may be taking the Golden Boot race by its reins and running with it, Wright-Phillips is far from the most recognizable goalscorer on the Red Bulls thanks to a guy you may have heard of before, Thierry Henry.

It just so happens that Henry is the league leader in assists with 10, while Wright-Phillips is busy chasing down the league record for goals.

The play of the French legend, as well the efforts of players such as Tim Cahill, Lloyd Sam and Eric Alexander, have helped the 29-year-old settle in to his first full season in MLS with plenty of confidence.

"Every striker wants his midfielders to do well. If they play well, more than likely, I'll play well."

Currently, Wright-Phillips is on a run that has seen him score 16 goals in a 13-game span that includes two hat tricks.

During that run of games, Wright-Phillips has failed to score in just two games, as he has consistently put up a single goal in most of New York's matches.

The most enthralling match of that stretch saw him score his second hat trick of the season in a 5-4 loss at home to Chicago.

The game, which was end-to-end for most of the 90 minutes, saw the scoring start in the fourth minute and not end until the third goal from Wright-Phillips in the 78th minute from the spot.

Since that game at Red Bull Arena, Wright-Phillips has been more casual with his scoring, which is why some fans have kept him off the radar, especially with the flashy trio of Dwyer, Defoe and Erick Torres scoring week after week as well.

In the nine games following his second hat trick, Wright-Phillips has scored more than one goal just once. His brace against Houston on July 4 extended his season total against the Dynamo to five after his first hat trick of the season on April 23 that ignited his scorching form.

Thanks to his 17 tallies, Wright-Phillips will join Henry, Defoe, Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and others in the MLS All-Star Game August 6 at Portland's Providence Park against Bayern Munich, a game that could also feature bright American prospect Julian Green.

While the Bayern back four may present a bigger challenge to Wright-Phillips than MLS defenses, there is no doubt that it will be alerted about the quiet forward, who is doing his job quite well up front at the moment.

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All statistics obtained from MLSsoccer.com.

slash iconYour sports. Delivered.

Enjoy our content? Join our newsletter to get the latest in sports news delivered straight to your inbox!