Why Bradley Wright-Phillips is One of the Best in MLS

Since his arrival in 2013, Bradley Wright-Phillips has cemented himself as one of the greatest players in New York Red Bulls history. The Englishman has put the ball in the back of the net on a consistent basis as he’s scored 115 goals in 190 appearances for the club. Furthermore, Wright-Phillips is one of the better goal scorers in Major League Soccer even though he might get overlooked.

From 2014 to 2017, Wright-Phillips has seen his name in the top ten when it comes to goal scoring; including two seasons where he scored 25 goals or more for Red Bulls. This season, the 33-year-old currently has 11 goals scored in 15 appearances and is heading towards another campaign in which he scores more than 20 goals.

In 2014, he exploded onto the scene with a 31 goal season; making up 49% of the Red Bulls offense. Diving deeper into the numbers, he was tied for fifth in MLS regarding shots per 90mins with 3.9; however, he was second in the league in shots on target as he averaged two per 90 in his first full season in New York.

The following year, Wright-Phillips came back down to earth as he scored 18 goals in MLS. His shots on target per 90 fell from two to 1.2 along with a goal conversion percentage per 90 of 17% it explains why he had a down year in 2015.

However, 2016 was rebounding year as he scored 25 goals and held a goal conversion percentage per 90 of 28%, only Jozy Altidore had a better percentage that season. Finally, 2017 saw Wright-Phillips drop to 19 goals, not a bad season; nonetheless, with 31 and 25 goal campaigns in previous years, it’s a letdown.

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Click here to view an interactive version

Over the last four seasons, Wright-Phillips has become one of the better strikers in MLS. Using data provided by SofaScore, the graph shows his 2016 season it allows for the comparison to other forwards with over 25 appearances in the league. Furthermore, it displays where he ranks among his peers that season and will allow for further detail as to why Wright-Phillips is one of the better strikers in MLS when he’s at his peak.

Toggling at the Red Bulls icon on the graph, it displays the total shots which are a category that is dominated by David Villa and Sebastian Giovinco. Both averaged over four total shots while putting two shots on target per 90 that season. On the other hand, Wright-Phillips puts 2.7 total shots with 1.7 being on goal. These numbers aren’t awful, but it’s a drop off when compared to Villa and Giovinco.

Although he averages fewer shots than some of his peers, Wright-Phillips goal conversion rate is among the best in MLS. His ability to make the most out of his shot opportunities explains why he can score over 20-plus goals in a season when compared to fellow forwards.

Despite scoring back-to-back 20-plus goal seasons, it appears as though Wright-Phillips is on his way to another 20-plus in 2018. Through 23 total appearances, he already has 15 goals scored for the club, and with 11 goals in MLS competition, he’s in second place behind Josef Martínez.

The saying goes, the older someone gets, the wiser they are, and that is one way to describe Wright-Phillips form since his arrival. The calculation of his shots and making sure everytime he fires the ball that it’s effective is what sets him apart. Once again, Wright-Phillips finds himself in the top scorer’s discussion, and perhaps this could be the year in which he leads the Red Bulls to that elusive MLS Championship.

[Photo: Aaron Doster]

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