For having just watched him pour in a hat trick, the Sounders back line was restrained with its praise of New York forward Bradley Wright-Phillips in the wake of their 4-1 defeat at Red Bull Arena on Saturday night.
“He knows how to be at the right place at the right time,” Seattle defender Jalil Anibaba said. “He was fortunate on the early finish on the first goal.”
Added Djimi Traore: “He’s lucky that he plays with very good players around him. They conserve him. If you’re good in front of the goal, it’s easy for you to finish. If you see the three goals he scored today, it’s not like he did something special. He didn’t take the ball and beat a defender. He was just in the right position to finish.”
Wright-Phillips’ first goal came on a rebound that Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei could only parry from close range, leaving a simple finish into a wide-open net. The second came on a penalty kick that Lloyd Sam won by beating Dylan Remick off the dribble on the edge of the box then drawing contact.
The third, though, showed why Wright-Phillips’ night wasn’t based solely on fortuitous timing — in case his season-long numbers hadn’t already dispelled that myth.
The 29-year-old Englishman’s 24 goals are three shy of Chris Wondolowski and Roy Lassister’s joint MLS single-season goal-scoring record. He has now netted three hat tricks this season and already surpassed Juan Pablo Angel’s single-season club scoring mark.
In the 55th minute of Saturday night’s match — so closely following that second goal from the penalty spot that the celebratory smoke was still billowing around the stadium — Wright-Phillips spotted a seam between Sounder center backs Chad Marshall and Traore and split them, cutting into space then lashing Roy Miller’s pass into the back of the net with a single touch.
Wright-Phillips may be a goal poacher, but this was a well-taken finish. Seattle’s back line may have been far from far strength and far from its best, but he made them pay.
“Bradley, he keeps doing it doesn’t he?” Sam said. “I’m really proud of him. He’s had a great season and he really hasn’t trained much this week. And to come in and get a hat-trick for us, I mean it’s phenomenal and I’m really proud of him.”
By the numbers: 3-3-3. Wright-Phillips’ number of shots, shots on goal and goals in Saturday night’s match.
In their own words: “I wouldn’t say its disrespect. I mean, I can imagine why they’re doing it, they had the cup final in the week so obviously they have a big squad, but I wouldn’t say disrespected. It was definitely something that we could capitalize on and we did” — NYRB midfielder Lloyd Sam on Seattle’s lineup changes.
Up next: Sounders at F.C. Dallas, Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. PST.