Red Bulls-Union Preview
While the New York Red Bulls recently added the brother of their star playmaker, the Philadelphia Union pulled off one of the biggest signings in franchise history.
Both high-profile additions are expected to debut Saturday night when the visiting Red Bulls seek a fifth win in six matches and an end to their struggles against the Union.
Shaun Wright-Phillips, the older brother of Bradley Wright-Phillips, signed with the Red Bulls earlier this week after a lengthy career in the English Premier League. He joins the club from Queens Park Rangers and also spent time with Manchester City and Chelsea.
It marks the 10th time in MLS history that a pair of brothers is on the same roster and the second time for the franchise after Martin and Fausto Klinger in 2001.
The Wright-Phillips brothers were also members of Manchester City in 2004. Shaun Wright-Phillips, a 33-year-old native of London, declared himself fit to play Saturday.
"It's exciting," said Bradley Wright-Phillips, who has a team-high eight goals after leading the way with 27 a year ago. "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."
They'll try to help the Red Bulls (8-6-5), third in the Eastern Conference with 29 points, win a season-high third in a row following a 2-0 victory over Orlando City in their last MLS match July 18.
New York has outscored opponents 22-9 while going 7-2-0 in its last nine across all competitions, but has dropped both meetings with rival Philadelphia this season and is 0-3-1 in the last four.
Vincent Nogueira and C.J. Sapong each scored in the Union's 2-0 win at Red Bull Arena on May 24 before Philadelphia pulled out a 2-1 road win on penalty kicks in the U.S. Open quarterfinals July 21.
"Every time we've played them we've been on the short end," New York defender Anthony Wallace said. "We take these losses very personally and we have something to prove when we do down there."
The Union, second to last in the East but just two points back of sixth, are trying to avoid their third straight league defeat after blowing a two-goal lead in a 3-2 loss at D.C. United on July 26.
Nogueira is likely sidelined for most of August with a right quad strain, while fellow starters Andrew Wenger (concussion) and Richie Marquez (ankle) will likely sit Saturday.
Philadelphia (6-12-4), however, is thinking positively after signing Swiss central midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta on Wednesday. The former FC Schalke player was highly coveted, drawing interest from clubs in Germany's top flight, La Liga and the EPL.
Barnetta is expected to get his visa situation sorted out in time to make his debut against the Red Bulls, though coach Jim Curtin doesn't think the 30-year-old playmaker will be ready to start.
"Pedigree wise, he is certainly one of the top players in the Union's short history, for sure," Curtin told the club's official website. "He's a guy that's humble and wants to do his talking on the field. And he's excited to get started."