MLS Daily: Bradley Wright-Phillips is worthy of his new deal at New York Red Bulls.

The former Charlton Athletic striker has become a sensation across the pond. 

Bradley Wright-Phillips has been rewarded with a new lucrative contract at New York Red Bulls following his impressive spell in the MLS.

It’s nothing more than what the striker deserves. The Red Bulls have relied on him heavily for their goals, making him a vital asset for the team. The deal marks another positive chapter in the 32-year old’s career, one that originally took a long time to get into gear.

Wright-Phillips struggled to make a name for himself in English football, and following spells with Manchester City, Southampton and Charlton Athletic, he decided upon a move to America in an attempt to rebrand himself.

His father, former-Arsenal striker Ian Wright, was always going to be a tough act to follow. From the outset, many wondered if he would ever reach the same level as his dad, but finally we seem to have an answer.

Whilst he may not still be a household name here in the UK, he has more than certainly stamped his mark on the Red Bulls and the MLS.

He is the club’s all-time top goalscorer in America’s top division with an impressive 70 goals in 111 games, an average of one goal every 63 minutes.

Wright-Phillips has also broken plenty of records and received many accolades during his four-year spell in the States.

On 23 April 2014, he scored a hattrick in a 4–0 win against Houston Dynamo, which meant he became the first Englishman to score three goals in an MLS game. He also won the golden boot that season after scoring 27 league goals.

Subsequently, he was signed on as a designated player in 2015, and a year later secured his second MLS golden boot award after netting 24 goals during the campaign. He is the only player ever in MLS to score 20+ goals in more than a single season.

Whilst he lost his DP status in 2016, is it just deserved he get it back this season. He is a club legend, and he will be for some time. That goal record is as impressive as any in world football, and at 32 years of age, you can expect him to possibly extend it to 100+ goals in a Red Bulls shirt.

He is a typical striker who gets into the right positions at the right time to score goals. He is good with either foot and with his head. He causes all kinds of problems for the opposing defence throughout the 90 minutes, and that’s what makes him such a crucial weapon in Red Bulls’ arsenal.

“I’d like to thank Jesse Marsch, and everyone at the club for the opportunity to continue wearing this shirt and playing in front of the best fans in MLS,’ BWP said to the media.

‘I am very proud of what has been accomplished in my time here, But my sole focus is on trying to win MLS Cup.”

The Red Bulls won the Supporters Shield back in 2013 and 2015, but are yet to go all the way. However, with BWP still leading the line for this season and beyond, that could well change in the not too distant future.





MLS Daily: Sounders back to their best after convincing win against the New York Red Bulls.

Goals from Clint Dempsey (Pen), Jordan Morris and Harry Shipp won the game for the defending MLS champions.

A crowd of 45,000 witnessed the return of the Seattle Sounders side that won last year’s MLS Cup, after they beat New York Red Bulls 3-1 at CenturyLink Field.

Like in Houston and Montreal, the Sounders started the game slowly, but this time the hosts didn’t take until the second half to find their feet.

In the 27th minute, Morris won a penalty for the home side after being brought down by New York ‘keeper Luis Robles.

Former Fulham and Tottenham man Dempsey slotted home the penalty, which seemed to calm the nerves of the Sounders players. Before then they could clearly feel the expectations of the crowd flowing within CenturyLink Field.

Morris was excellent all night. Somewhat a ghostly figure in the opening two matches, last year’s MLS Rookie of the Year was getting into some great positions, but was unable to double the home side’s lead before the break.

The travelling Red Bulls, whose 18-match unbeaten run in the regular season was brought to a drastic halt, had equalised when Bradley Wright-Phillips headed home.

It was the last time the Red Bulls came forward with any real attacking intent. Seattle piled on the pressure after that, and deservedly went back in front when Morris powered home a header of his own inside the six yard box.

Shipp made it 3-1 with just over ten minutes to go when he purposely deflected Joevin Jones’ long range strike into the bottom left corner.

Sounders Head Coach Brian Schmetzer praised the crowd, and hopes the noise of the supporters continues.

“This is going to be an exciting home season for us,” he said in his post-match conference.

“Today’s atmosphere was good. The fans were loud from start to end and we were able to reward them with a good performance.”

Schmetzer again spoke about the never-say die attitude of his team.

“Once again we have produced a good second half performance,” claimed the Sounders boss.

“I can’t tell you how or why, but the spirit of the team is always there.”

Striker Jordan Morris almost came off at half-time due to injury, but the young forward insists he was fine.

“We said try it for ten minutes, and it felt fine. I never wanted to come off. I always want to play,” he said after the game. 

“It’s the same ankle I sprained a little back in the pre-season, but I don’t think it’a anything serious and I should be fine for next week.”

Both these sides will be in contention to make the end of season play-offs if they perform to the levels we have seen already this season, but they will need to make their form consistent.

The Red Bulls have to be more attacking and cleverer with possession away from home, especially at a hostile location like Seattle.

The Sounders also need to continue to be on the front foot from the get go and attack with pace. Morris, Jones and Oniel Fisher casued havoc for the New York defence all evening, and more of the same will see them quickly climb up the Western Conference.



MLS Daily: Getting rid of financial regulations wouldn’t necessarily make the MLS more competitive.

New York City FC midfielder Andrea Pirlo has called for the MLS salary cap to be scrapped in order for the league to compete with China’s top division. 

After the financial collapse of the North American Soccer League (NASL) in the 1980s, the MLS developed a system so that the same fate couldn’t be repeated- but it could cost them the ability to attract the world’s best players.

The rise of the Chinese Super League has escalated over the last couple of years- with teams spending enormous amounts of money to buy some of the highest quality footballers on the planet. Hulk, Oscar, Axel Witsel and Carlos Tevez are just a few of the players currently plying their trade in Asia on mega-buck contracts.

In comparison, the MLS have integrated a system in which clubs can only sign a maximum of three designated players, who can earn above the salary cap thats set across the league.

37-year old Pirlo told Gazzetta dello Sport: “The league needs to get rid of any restrictions on transfers and end the rule which allows only three so-called designated players to earn big money beyond each team’s set budget if it wants to compete.

“I’ve seen improvements and from what I have seen in friendly games and the first two rounds of the regular season. The quality has risen a lot.

“But certainly I would get rid of the restrictions on the transfer market. Enough with the three exceptions to the salary cap, which is too little to convince other stars to come here. They need to develop a liberal system where you can buy and sell players without restrictions.

“Now there is even the competition from China. If you want to compete with other leagues, at home and abroad, you have got to get rid of any restrictions.”

Pirlo, along with David Villa, are two of the three designated players currently on the books at Yankee Stadium.

Other notable names on designated contracts include Orlando city captain Kaka, Toronto’s Sebastian Giovinco, as well as LA Galaxy trio Jelle Van Damme, Giovani Dos Santos and Romain Alessandrini.

David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Thierry Henry and Didier Drogba have all been previously on designated player contracts.

The major problem for the MLS is that players have only considered moving to the states as a last big payday. Most players listed above joined their retrospective clubs when they were in their 30s.

The restrictions on contracts and transfer sums means that players aren’t ready to join a league that isn’t as competitive as the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga and the Bundesliga when they are at their peak.

A shift in the rulebook could help the teams compete with the Chinese Super League, but it would definitely hamper certain clubs chances of success.

Even if the restrictions were lifted, not all MLS clubs have mega budgets they could use to sign quality players. Like some leagues in Europe, we would probably see three or four clubs competing for the MLS Cup every year, which could drive away certain fans.

At the same time, fans do want to see the world’s best players. Rumours are going round suggesting that LA Galaxy are preparing to offer Zlatan Ibrahimovic a deal to come over to the MLS- a deal which would excite the country let alone LA.

But you couldn’t imagine other clubs, say the San Jose Earthquakes or Sporting KC offering the same deal to the 35-year old Swedish captain. Only a handful of teams could, and that is why the salary cap is worthy of being in place. It makes the league fairer for the smaller budgeted sides.

The quality of the American top flight is forever growing stronger, and when it is at a standard where most if not all players would be worthy of designated player contracts, then we could see a change in the rules.

China may have the money, but it will take time to integrate better footballing standards in the country. Look at the English clubs spending big, like Manchester United. They are still nowhere near winning the Premier League title. Liverpool also have spent a heap of cash and look like possibly missing out on Champions League football.

Leicester City won the Premier League last year, and had one of the smallest budgets in the division.

Money isn’t everything. It may bring the stars, but it doesn’t necessarily bring better standards and excitement. The MLS this year is as competitive as ever, and it’s only going to get better.







MLS Daily: Late heartbreak for Atlanta.

It was almost a winning start in MLS for Gerardo Martino’s men. 

It was a famous night in the state of Georgia which nearly ended in ecstasy for the home fans.

Argetine midfielder Yamil Asad scored Atlanta’s first ever goal in MLS after 25 minutes with a first time finish at the back post from Tyrone Mears’ cross.

For a majority of the match, the home side seemed comfortably against a well-organised New York Red Bulls team.

Atlanta, who are coached by former Barcelona and Argentina boss Martino, were just 18 minutes away from victory before the visitors equalised through Daniel Royer.

The home team would have probably taken a point at the start of the evening, but even that was cruelly taken away from them when the unfortunate Anton Walkes put the ball into his own net.

With Atalanta pushing for a late equaliser, Carlos Carmona lost his cool and the Spaniard was sent off for violent conduct to end any chance of a comeback for the home team.

Martino however was pleased with his team’s performance and told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution afterwards: “We were much closer to converting a second goal then they were to equalise.

“They managed to turn the score around but I think we had started to control the game again up until they scored that leveller.”

“We want to be a team that is very aggressive and quickly win the ball back when we lose it. The message we want to put out there is that we are a team that is very comfortable in this league and is excited to represent the city.”

Goalscorer Asad added: “It was a joy to score (Atlanta’s first ever MLS goal). I’m very excited to be a part of the club’s history, but I’m unhappy that we lost. We still have a lot of things to work on.”

Red Bulls’ playmaker Sacha Kljestan, who was made club captain during the off-season, said: “Atlanta seem to be doing a lot of things right.

“Their training facility is top-notch and the atmosphere of the stadium with the fans was amazing. Atlanta as a team are very good- I think they will do pretty well this season.”

Jesse Marsch, Head Coach of the New York Red Bulls, praised the mentality of his team but was also full of praise for the opposition.

“Atlanta tested us in big way in the first half  but we hung in there,” he said.

“At half-time, we asked the players to put a little bit more effort in and be a little bit clearer tactically. I thought for the most part we did that.

The effort in the second half  was really good, and it was a great comeback. There is a lot of spirit within this team.”

Elsewhere last night, Orlando kicked off their new season with a 1-0 win over New York City FC.

Cyle Larin scored the only goal of the game, as Orlando opened their new stadium with victory.

Vancouver Whitecaps could only draw 0-0 at home to Philadelphia Union.



Moments of 2016: Conor McGregor makes history at UFC 205.

It’s been a rollercoaster year for the Notorious, but by the end of it, he became the most decorated UFC fighter in history.

This time last year, Connor McGregor defeated Jose Aldo in just 13 seconds to win the UFC Featherweight title.

The question was, what would he do next? A rematch seemed unlikely. The Notorious was done with the Brazilian, and instead began a quest to become the first double-weight champion in the sports history. The next class up was Lightweight, and the Irishman already had his eyes on the champion: Rafael Dos Anjos

The pair were expected to face each other at UFC 196 in March, but Dos Anjos broke his foot in training and had to withdraw.

Instead, McGregor moved up a further class to Welterweight to fight Nate Diaz. Many insisted the move up would be too big a jump, and although the 28-year old  comfortably made the weight, he lost via submission in the second round. It was his first UFC defeat.

Once again the question was where would McGregor go from here? This next fight would make or break his UFC dream of winning two championships at the same time.

A return to Featherweight was an option, but instead he wanted to prove all his doubters wrong in a rematch with Diaz.

The pair met once again at UFC 202 in August.

The event would beat the record for highest Pay-Per-View sales in UFC history, but more importantly, it allowed McGregor to get his vengeance. The Irishman battled though five gruelling rounds, and won via majority decision.

“The motherf***ing king is back!,” exclaimed the Notorious.

It was a victory that re-sparked the belief and confidence he had back just after the Aldo fight.

He had regained his focus, and when he challenged Eddie Alvarez for the Lightweight belt at UFC 205 in November, many made the Irishman favourite for the fight.

UFC 205 was a special night. It was the first UFC event to be held in New York City, and was the scene for a piece of history to unfold in front of the world.

McGregor was in a league of his own, and comfortably made light work of Alvarez inside two rounds.

“I know I’ve been mean to some of the guys on this roster, and I want to take this chance to apologise….to absolutely nobody!,” he said after the fight.

“Now where’s my belt?”

He has done what no-man has achieved before. Yes, he has had to give up the Featherweight title as he can’t defend two at the same time, but everyone knows he cannot be laughed at anymore.

He has the company on its knees. The UFC might have new owners, but that won’t stop the Irishman running the show.

So what next for the Notorious in 2017? He has revealed he expects to become a father, and that could have an effect on his availability to fight in the second half of the year. Maybe that means he has a mega-fight lined up in the spring time, and one last hurrah before some time out of the octagon.

A super-mega fight with Floyd Mayweather has been suggested for months now, and the Irishman has recently received a boxing license, but that rumour still remains in the shadows.

Perhaps the best move for him would be to stick to Lightweight and own the division. There are some fighters in this division that would love to fight the Notorious- and who wouldn’t- seeing as he is the poster-boy of the UFC.

A maker of his own legacy, and  notorious inside and out of the Octagon, this man has helped the brand become more popular in the UK and other countries.

Usain Bolt will probably win the overseas Sports Personality of the Year award, but if someone was to challenge him all the way, it would have been Conor McGregor.