This week in local MLS action: both teams had an Englishman debut, but the results continued to send the teams in opposite directions before their final regular season clash next weekend.


At the beginning of June, Red Bulls striker Bradley Wright-Phillips was getting married. His brother Shaun, a well known English winger who had most recently been with Queens Park Rangers, had come over for the festivities. A chance conversation with RBNY coach Jesse Marsch lead to him training with the club for past month and a half, leading to his eventual signing last Monday.

So it was a sports writer's wet dream that SWP's debut would be on the road at Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. After a lackluster first half, SWP replaced Lloyd Sam and helped swing the match in RBNY's favor. He drew a penalty minutes after appearing on the field, and Sacha Kljestan buried it to open the scoring. Sebastien Le Toux would level the score for the Union six minutes later, but on the ensuing kickoff, the Wright-Phillipses (How does one pluralize a last name like "Wright-Phillips"? Wrights-Phillips? Wright-Phillipsi?) would combine, with Shaun dancing around Ray Gaddis and feeding Bradley for the eventual game winner:

Anatole Abang would put away a counter deep in stoppage time to end the match 3-1 and ensure some level of revenge against a Union side that had been a thorn in the side of the 2015 Red Bulls.

"It's always going to have meaning if you can help your brother achieve his targets," SWP said after the match, "but I think the most meaningful part is we got three points on the road and we just have to carry on to the next game."

Bradley reflected on their previous stint together at Manchester City, where they last played together. "He tried to set me up when I was at City with him, a lot of times, you know. He was being very biased and I couldn't finished them so he was mad at me. So today I concentrated on the cut-back and put it in the back of the net."

SWP won't be the only mid-season addition to the club. The Red Bulls are expected to add 25-year-old Argentine midfielder Gonzalo Veron as a Designated Player this week before the close of the transfer window.

The Red Bulls travel to Montreal for a Wednesday before hosting NYCFC in the final Hudson River Derby of the regular season on Sunday evening. The Red Bulls won the previous two meetings and are looking to complete the sweep to assert their dominance over their "noisy neighbors" in the Bronx.

Frank Lampard made his long awaited debut. (photo: New York City FC)


At least the wait is over? 373 days after Frank Lampard was announced as an NYCFC player, the English midfielder made his debut as a substitute in NYCFC's home match against Montreal. But even with Villa, Lampard, and Pirlo all finally on the field together, it wasn't enough, as NYCFC suffered their 10th loss of the season.

Montreal abused the NYCFC back line early, sending lofted balls over the top like a teenager playing FIFA. Dominic Oduro pulled down a long ball from Laurent Ciman, touched it through the legs of goalkeeper Josh Saunders, and put away the opener inside of five minutes.

Piatti would run onto a similar ball in the 32nd minute, one-timing a chip over Saunders and doubling the lead that would hold for halftime:

NYCFC tried desperately to get back into it. The teams traded dubious penalties, with both Villa and Piatta converting. David Villa tried to power up the attack, with five of his seven shots coming after the interval. Andrea Pirlo played a full 90, but was largely stuck in his own half and unable to help contain Montreal's attack. Lampard's debut was notable only in that it finally happened: his insertion changed little about the game. City would trim the lead to one off a good team goal finished off by Tommy McNamara, but an equalizer would not come:

"It's always difficult to come in when you're chasing the game because you need to get into it," Lampard told media after the game. "You try to force things because you need to score goals...It would have been ideal if I would come in winning the game. I would come in and enjoy the 20 minutes and rather try to make things happen so quickly."

With the Bronx Blues slipping further from the playoff hunt, questions continue to ring about coach Jason Kreis. Does he deserve the benefit of the doubt since this is an expansion team? Should he start having to answer for odd decisions like leaving Kwadwo Poku on the bench after a three-assist performance last week? And what sort of blackmail material does Ned Grabavoy hold that has him continuing to make starts for the club?

Next Sunday's trip to Red Bull Arena may well end up being a referendum on the NYCFC first year. With all of his stars finally available, Kreis can't afford a third blow-out loss to their cross-river rivals.