October 7, 2015
Wright-Phillips following up Golden Boot season with yet another golden year
By Michael Lewis
Red Bulls striker Bradley Wright-Phillips has 42 goals over his last two seasons, at the moment second best among MLS Golden Boot winners when you combine their scoring championship season and next year.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
After striking for a league-record tying 27 goals in 2014, Bradley Wright-Phillips has accrued 15 more this season.
Some observers, fans and media might consider that a failure in comparison, but it is more than a victory for the Red Bulls forward.
Only a handful of Major League Soccer scoring championship have been able to follow up a Golden Boot season with another highly productive one.
In fact, if you look at the 19 previous boot winners, only Stern John, who led the league in goal-scoring with 26 goals for the Columbus Crew in 1998, has a better strike record. He connected for another 18 in 1999, giving him 44 goals over the two seasons.
BWP has 42 and he has four games remaining, including Wednesday night's home encounter against the Montreal Impact.
Now, it must be noted that the league awarded the Golden Boot to the overall scoring champion through 2004, in that it counted goals and assists. After that, it was goals that were gold.
Wright-Phillips obviously was helped last season by the presence and play of Thierry Henry, who could turn straw into goals with his passes. With Henry on the field, teams would have to worry about him, giving Wright-Phillips some extra room.
But it still takes a finisher to, well, put the finishing touches on a pass and BWP did extremely well.
Without Henry, heck, without any big-name players, the Red Bulls find themselves atop the Eastern Conference and Wright-Phillips finds himself with 15 goals.
At the beginning of the season, I said that 15 would be excellent year for the Englishman.
The funny thing is that Wright-Phillips still has four games to add to his totals.
It is not inconceivable that Wright-Phillips can score five goals in those four encounters and finish with 20. That would make him the first player in the league's 20-year history to snare 20 goals in back-to-back seasons.
Now, if BWP could only have converted a few more penalty kicks earlier this year, he would have received that milestone. Wright-Phillips put home his first two penalty-kick attempts before missing his next two (not counting another vital one in a Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup match with the Philadelphia Union before Sacha Kljestan took over those responsibilities (he has been perfect in three tries since).
But I am getting quite greedy.
BWP has forged a fabulous 2015 season, scoring championship or not.