Red Bulls now have Wright-Phillips brother act

Photo by Jim Hague It’s a sign of brotherly love as Bradley Wright-Phillips (l.), the New York Red Bulls’ leading scorer a year ago, welcomes older brother Shaun to the club at a press conference at Red Bull Arena last week.
Photo by Jim Hague
It’s a sign of brotherly love as Bradley Wright-Phillips (l.), the New York Red Bulls’ leading scorer a year ago, welcomes older brother Shaun to the club at a press conference at Red Bull Arena last week.


Who would have ever dreamed that a simple event like the coupling of New York Red Bulls All-Star striker Bradley Wright-Phillips with his fiancée Leanne would pay major dividends for the club six weeks later?

As it turned out, the wedding turned out to be a complete blessing in disguise.

You see, Bradley Wright-Phillips’ wedding in June was attended by his older brother, Shaun, a world class soccer player in his own right.

Shaun Wright-Phillips, a standout in the British Premier League with clubs like Manchester City, Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers, came to New Jersey from his native England for his brother’s nuptials and that was it. There was nothing else planned for the elder Wright-Phillips.

“I came for the wedding and expected to go back,” Shaun Wright- Phillips said.

However, while the elder brother was in New Jersey, he was asked by Red Bulls’ sporting director Ali Curtis and head coach Jesse Marsch to train with Bradley and the Red Bulls.

Shaun Wright-Phillips was a free agent and weighing offers from all over the world. He was not going to return to the Queens Park Rangers, the club that he saw action with for four games last season. So the Red Bulls suddenly became an option.

“Everything just seemed to fall into place,” Shaun Wright- Phillips said. “The more I trained, the more likely it looked like it was going to happen. I didn’t expect it. It just did.”

Last Tuesday afternoon at Red Bull Arena, the Wright-Phillips brothers were officially reunited, as the 33-yearold native of London signed a contract with the Red Bulls, joining his 30-year-old brother on the club. Bradley Wright-Phillips set a new club record with 27 goals last year, one short of the league record, and has found the net nine times this season.

Not wasting any time, Marsch got the elder Wright-Phillips into action right away and he played Saturday night, entering the match in the 61st minute and collected an assist right away, feeding his little brother with a perfect pass 13 minutes later in the Red Bulls’ 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park.

It marks the 10th time in MLS history that a pair of brothers ended up on the same roster. It’s the second time in the history of the MetroStars/Red Bulls franchise. Martin and Fausto Klinger played together for the MetroStars in 2001.

It’s safe to say that the Wright-Phillips brothers have just a little bit more of an impact on the franchise than the Klinger brothers had with the MetroStars.

It’s the second time that the Wright-Phillips brothers have played on the same team. In 2004, both were members of Manchester City in the English Premier League.

The elder Wright-Phillips is a veteran of the English Premier League, having played for the Queens Park Rangers, Manchester City and Chelsea, seeing action in 299 Premier League matches, scoring 31 goals.

Wright-Phillips also earned 36 caps with England’s national team from 2004 through 2010, scoring six goals.

The two brothers insisted that there was no such thing as a sibling rivalry.

“He’s the older brother, so he was always better than me,” Bradley Wright-Phillips said at the press conference announcing his brother’s signing. “There wasn’t too much competition.”

“We were only on the same team once, so we really never had a rivalry,” Shaun Wright- Phillips said. “I think we used to talk about whoever scored the most goals on Sunday. Sometimes, I needed to let him know who was boss.”

“When I was younger, he used to bully me a little,” Bradley Wright-Phillips said. “He was bigger than me then. I bet he understands now.”

The younger brother was overjoyed about his older brother joining the Red Bulls.

“It’s exciting,” Bradley Wright-Phillips said. “I’m not going to lie. Growing up, it was always a dream to play alongside my brother on the same team. Now, this is like a dream come true for us. We never spoke about it much. It just was one of those things. He came here for the wedding and now gets the opportunity to play with us. He’ll have no problem at all fitting in. It’s going to be a nice feeling for our family and friends to have us together, but this is all about the New York Red Bulls and helping the team gain some silverware.”

Shaun Wright-Phillips said that there will be a different feeling come Saturday when they finally get to play together.

“It’s going to be weird,” the elder Wright-Phillips said. “I know he’s going to start reaching into my bag for things when we get changed.”

Marsch was elated to have the brothers together.

“Having them play together is a great story, because they’re both great players,” Marsch said. “When you see Shaun train and the amount of work he puts in, you know he’s the kind of player you want. It became obvious to us that he was the right guy for us. I was always impressed with the quality he showed, but now I see he does all the little things to make a team successful. Shaun was the perfect addition to this club.”

Curtis agreed.

“It’s a great day for the Red Bulls,” Curtis said. “Shaun is a great player with a tremendous amount of experience. He’s also a really good person. You can see how he is with the other players. There have been days already in training where he has been our best player. We’re elated to add a player like Shaun to our roster.”

Since Bradley Wright-Phillips already wears jersey No. 99, Shaun decided to go one digit lower, donning No. 98.

“It just seemed to make sense,” Shaun Wright-Phillips said.

The Red Bulls currently own a 9-6-5 record, good for 32 points and second place in the MLS Eastern Conference standings.

If anything, the Wright- Phillips brothers make the Red Bulls an interesting team to watch down the stretch of the MLS season.

Learn more about the writer ...

Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”