Sporting Kansas City 0, New York Red Bulls 2 | MLS Match Recap
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Bradley Wright-Phillips needed two goals to claim a share of MLS' single-season scoring record. His club needed three points to secure home field advantage in Thursday’s Eastern Conference Knockout Round.
He got his brace, and they got the win.
Wright-Phillips scored once in each half, finishing the year with 27 goals, and the New York Red Bulls beat injury-depleted Sporting Kansas City 2-0 on Sunday night in the last match of the regular season.
New York (13-10-11, 50 points) finished fourth in the Eastern Conference and will host fifth-place Sporting (14-13-7, 49 points) – who lost seven of their last 10 matches in league play – on Thursday at Red Bull Arena.
With goals in the 15th and 70th minutes Wright-Phillips matched the record set by Roy Lassiter of the now-defunct Tampa Bay Mutiny in 1996, MLS' inaugural season, and two years ago by San Jose's Chris Wondolowski. The 2014 Budweiser MLS Golden Boot winner, Wright-Phillips had four goals in three matches against Kansas City this season.
Sporting's Dom Dwyer was held scoreless on Sunday, finishing second in the Golden Boot race with a club-record 22 tallies.
The loss closed out a rough four-day stretch for the defending MLS Cup champions, who were eliminated from CONCACAF Champions League play on Thursday with a 2-0 away loss to Costa Rican side Deportivo Saprissa – a loss that saw playmaking midfielder Benny Feilhaber and right back Igor Juliao sidelined by injuries that could keep them out of this week's knockout game.
The two clubs' big scorers traded chances early on, but each was undone by a timely deflection.
Wright-Phillips took a long ball over the top in the sixth minute and made a slick spin move to get away from center back Aurelien Collin and into space, but Matt Besler – who had been listed as questionable with a thigh contusion – blocked the shot out for a corner.
Dwyer nearly opened the scoring two minutes later, with a low left-footed shot that seemed destined to slip inside the far post, but Luis Robles made a sprawling one-handed deflection for the Red Bulls. It was one of only two saves Robles needed for the clean sheet, as Sporting struggled all night to put shots on frame.
After that early exchange, Wright-Phillips broke through just before the quarter-hour and scored his first goal of the night after a breakdown in Sporting's penalty area.
Right back Kevin Ellis got a foot to Eric Alexander's pass, but not enough to keep it from getting to Wright-Phillips. He slotted his shot past onrushing goalkeeper Eric Kronberg and inside the right post to put the visitors up 1-0.
The English forward iced the match and tied the record in the 70th with some aggressive ball-winning and a cool finish. He stripped Collin of the ball at the top left corner of the penalty area and then drove to the middle of the box, before cutting the ball back across his body and firing into the center of the goal.
Wright-Phillips nearly bagged a record-breaking third in the 83rd minute, but Kronberg made a point-blank save off his chest to deny him a 28th goal.
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Bradley Wright-Phillips||Moved into the history books, netting a brace to tie Roy Lassiter and Chris Wondolowski for the all-time MLS single season scoring mark at 27 goals.|
|2||Richard Eckersley||Didn't have an easy matchup on the right side of the Red Bulls' back line, but did yeoman work in helping keep Sporting out of rhythm.|
|3||Paulo Nagamura||Gritty effort in defeat from Sporting's spark plug, who will have to step things up even more if Benny Feilhaber can't come back for Thursday's game.|