By DAN KARELL
The New York Red Bulls earned their fourth successive win on Sunday evening, but it came at a cost, with Bradley Wright-Phillips going down with a hamstring injury early in the first half.
In the 26th minute, Thierry Henry played a chipped pass over the defense for Wright-Phillips to run on to. As Wright-Phillips approached the ball, he suddenly pulled up, grabbing the back of his leg before collapsing on the field.
After signing with the Red Bulls in late July, Wright-Phillips worked his way into the lineup and had started four in a row alongside Henry, taking the place of Fabian Espindola. Though he hadn’t scored yet, the 28-year-old forward’s hard work up top had earned the praise of the coaching staff, and as of Sunday night, Red Bulls coaches and players were still in the dark over the level of his injury.
“No clue,” Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke said after Sunday’s match when asked about the seriousness of the injury. “I know that it’s serious enough that he had to be taken off the field, he couldn’t continue. But as how severe it is, I have no clue.”
The injury adds another challenge to the Red Bulls heading into a marquee matchup on the road against the Seattle Sounders next Sunday.
Here are some more notes from Sunday’s Red Bulls win:
ROBLES EARNS TENTH SHUTOUT WITH WIN
It may come as a surprise, but Luis Robles shutout in Sunday’s 1-0 victory was his tenth this season.
Despite committing a few errors earlier in the season, Robles recent performances have been among the best in the league, and he was up to the task again against FC Dallas, saving a close-range attempt from Fabian Castillo just before halftime to preserve what was then a 0-0 scoreline.
“He’s a vital part of our football team,” Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill said. “I said to him (at halftime), ‘That (save) could win us the game’, and it ended up winning us the game.”
Robles’ ten clean sheets places him at the top of the MLS goalkeeping charts, though five other goalkeepers each have ten shutouts this season as well. However, one statistic that the 29-year-old does have all to himself is the wins total, with 15 so far this season.
“In a goalkeeper, you expect him to come up with one huge save per game, a game changing save, and Robles has done that if not more,” Petke said. “I’m very happy with where he’s at.”
CAHILL PLAYS 90 MINUTES IN FIRST START FROM INJURY
For the second time in two months, Tim Cahill returned earlier than anticipated from injury and was inserted back into the starting lineup.
Cahill, one of the Red Bulls unquestioned leaders, was first injured on July 27 by Real Salt Lake midfielder Yordany Alvarez, tearing the PCL in his left knee. Though he was supposed to miss three to four weeks, Cahill returned in 20 days to start for the Red Bulls. After suffering torn ankle ligaments on another bad tackle, this time by D.C. United’s Dejan Jakovic on August 31, Cahill again was back on the field just over three weeks later, and he potentially could have been used a week earlier.
“It’s a huge lift for us, mainly for a leadership perspective,” Dax McCarty said. “Seeing (Cahill) back out on the field, fighting and scrapping, I’m sure he lead out team in fouls committed tonight. You see a guy fighting after he comes off a really bad ankle injury, it shows you that he’s willing to put in the work and the fight for this team and you have to battle and follow his lead.
“Once we get him back to full fitness and once we get him back to the form he was showing before his injury, that’s going to be another weapon for us and he’s going to be so dangerous. He’s already is as dangerous as ever on set pieces and crashing the box.”
The 33-year-old Australian international admitted that he wasn’t on his best form on Sunday, but his 90 minute appearance means he’s another step in his rehabilitation back to fitness. Cahill’s had a rejuvenated season in terms of goal scoring, banging in eight goals so far with four assists after scoring just one in his half-season at the club last season.
- Thierry Henry declined to speak to media after the match on Sunday, so it’s still unknown whether he will play next week on the turf surface at CenturyLink Field. Since joining the league, Henry has regularly sat out games that take place on turf fields.
- Just a couple of weeks removed from creating a new internet craze, Henrying, based on his goal celebration, Henry likely started a new internet meme in the 90th minute, shaking his butt side to side in a dance aimed at FC Dallas left back Michel after winning a free kick just outside the box.
- Petke lauded the play of centerback Jamison Olave, saying “his defensive play this year has been amazing,” and saying that if youth soccer players want to learn how to defend, they should watch Olave.
- David Carney started his fourth straight game for the Red Bulls since signing on August 8 and joining the team officially for training on August 22.
What do you think of these notes? Who do you see starting in place of Wright-Phillips in Seattle? Do you believe Robles is the best goalkeeper in MLS? Happy to see Cahill back on the field after his recent injury?
Share your thoughts below.