There may be a two-decade long rivalry between the New York Red Bulls and DC United, but Wayne Rooney is sharing a footballer’s respect for the legendary New York player Bradley Wright-Phillips. The two are familiar with the pressures of playing in Europe, and the DC United captain admires what Wright-Phillips has accomplished.

Rooney Calls Wright-Phillips a “real MLS success”

“I’m sure in some ways (Brad) had that with his older brother and his father,” said Rooney when talking about trying to escape the shadow of his famous family. “I think the decision was the right decision for him to come here and play. And he’s been a real success.”

In his time in MLS Bradley Wright-Phillips tied the all-time MLS scoring in 2014 with 27 goals. A record which was broken this season by Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez. He also became the first player in league history to have 15 or more goals in five consecutive seasons. At the time of his arrival, he was considered as secondary striker behind Thierry Henry but soon became a major player not just for the team but league-wide.

Contrary to that is Wayne Rooney. The Manchester United legend has arrived in MLS with much fanfare but has seen what the pressure of success can do to others in the same family, looking to make a name for themselves. His own brother, John Rooney, played with the New York Red Bulls in 2011. The run wasn’t impressive by any means but the environment is one that grants an escape from the oppressive European media and can allow for a player to develop their own identity.

“My oldest boy now, he plays football,” said Rooney. “He does it because he wants to do it. It’s not because me or my wife are putting any pressure on him. If he turns around and says he doesn’t want to do it, then that’s fine. I like him to do what he enjoys.”

This meeting will be the last between the two sides in 2018 and the second with Rooney being the high-profile signing. Their last meeting was a win for New York with Rooney being critical of the officiating. DC is fighting for a playoff spot, just three points behind Montreal, making Sunday’s Atlantic Cup finale a contentious tilt. The Red Bulls are hoping to galvanize their hold on the Supporters Shield Race ahead of Atlanta United.

Photo by Bill Twomey Photography

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