Bradley Wright-Phillips and Thierry Henry are the most in-form scoring tandem in Major League Soccer this season. The pair scored 29 of the New York Red Bulls’ 37 goals in the regular season, with Wright-Phillips carrying much of the load with a league-high 21 goals, just six short of the league record for goals in a season.
Meanwhile, Henry is in full support with eight tallies and a team-high 11 assists.
The pair worked in tandem last Saturday night at Red Bull Arena to defeat the defending champion Sporting Kansas City, 2–1, when Wright-Phillips gave the Red Bulls (8–8–10, 34 points.) the lead and Henry secured the winner to the delight of 20,831 fans.
Wright-Phillips, who was fully aware of playing against his main rival for the league scoring title — fellow Englishman Dom Dwyer, who has 18 goals — wasted no time in getting on the score sheet. He buzzed around the Kansas City (12–10–6, 42 points.) goal area, which led to a foul on the forward committed by Kansas City defender Matt Besler; Wright-Phillips scored the resulting penalty kick to give the Red Bulls a 1–0 lead in the 11th minute, which New York carried into the second half.
As has been the norm this season, Henry followed his scoring partner onto the scoring sheet with what turned out to be the winner in the 52nd minute. The former French international scored what was referred to as a “world-class strike” when he received a pass from midfielder Lloyd Sam and beat Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum for the 2–0 lead.
It was as if Dwyer felt obligated to respond and stay in the scoring race, and he did by pulling a goal back for the visitors in the 54th minute; Dwyer fell short on two occasions earlier in the contest but not this time, as he hit a ball that was headed downward in the New York goal area by Seth Sinovic and beat Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles.
Around the league
In other Major League Soccer games last weekend, host Houston Dynamo defeated the Montreal Impact 3–2 behind two goals from Giles Barnes (30th, 62nd, minutes) and a winning tally from Ricardo Clark (65th); Dilly Duka (40th) and Ignaciao Piatti (55th) scored for Montreal. Real Salt Lake registered a 2–1 win over FC Dallas when Costa Rican international Javier Saborio (77th) broke a 1–1 tie; Robbie Findlay scored Salt Lake’s first goal and Michel registered for FC Dallas. Meanwhile, DC United and the Vancouver Whitecaps played to a goal-less draw.
The Philadelphia Union is still improving while Toronto FC seems to be regressing; Philadelphia knocked off the host, 2–0, behind first-half goals from Conor Casey and Andrew Wenger. Toronto is now coached by former USA international Greg Vanney, who replaced Ryan Nelsen last Sunday.
Bocanegra to retire: Former Team USA defender and captain, Carlos Bocanegra announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of the 2014 season. The 35-year-old, who plays for Chivas USA in Major League Soccer, enjoyed a 15-year professional career in which he played for the American league’s Chicago Fire, Fulham FC of the English Premier League, Glasgow Rangers of Scotland, Renne in France and Racing Santander in the Spain. Bocanegra is considered as one of the most successful American players. He represented the USA in 110 matches, including two World Cups (2006 and 2010), scored 14 goals (a record for a U.S. defender) and captained the national team 64 times, with 34 victories, another record for a U.S. player.
“Carlos has been an outstanding ambassador for U.S. Soccer,” United States Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said. “As a player, a captain and a leader, he has epitomized the best of what it means to be a member of the National Team throughout his career. We are all extremely proud of everything he has accomplished, and look forward to working with him in continuing to help grow the sport in the country.”