Ian Wright: Red Bulls have a 'difficult mountain to climb' against Atlanta

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With his son's side trailing 3-0 heading into Thursday's second leg, the former Arsenal star knows the going will be very tough for New York

Bradley Wright-Phillips has proven himself to be one of the top strikers in Major League Soccer, but the son of Arsenal legend Ian Wright will have his work cut out for him as his New York Red Bulls side tries to overcome a 3-0 hole against Atlanta United in the MLS playoffs.  

New York and Atlanta came into the postseason as the top two teams, in terms of points, in MLS history. Both cruised into the Eastern Conference finals, setting up what was primed to be an epic clash of titans.  

The first leg changed the narrative completely, with the Five Stripes pouring on the style and running to a 3-0 win, leaving the Red Bulls in need of something special in the second leg if they are to claim the club's first ever MLS Cup title.  

Wright now says his son entered the tie concerned by the knowledge that Atlanta had won both games between the sides in the regular-season series, and believes there is now "a very difficult mountain to climb" for the Red Bulls.  

"We were speaking the other day and he [Bradley] was worried that they [Atlanta] beat them [NYRB] twice in the season and that there was going to be a backlash to that," Wright told Goal. "I watched the game and saw it go to 3-0 and thought at 2-0 that Red Bull had to shut up shop. I’ve played in games at 2-0 down and tried to come back from it but at 3-0 down it’s a very difficult mountain to climb." 

New York manager Chris Armas took some heat after the first leg for his side sitting back and allowing Tata Martino's men to control the pace of the game

Wright admits he wasn't pleased with the way the Supporters' Shield winner managed the first leg but is still hopeful the Red Bulls can come out flying on Thursday night.  

"I was hoping that they were going to manage the game a little bit better, but anything can happen," he said. "If they start well and start quickly, the nerves could hit Atlanta.  

"They [NYRB] are playing at home, they need to fly out the blocks but need to be careful not to leave the back door open. As we’ve seen with Atlanta, they have the capability of hitting them on the break and scoring goals very rapidly. They’ve got no choice simply because of what the score is but it’s going to be very difficult." 

Wright, who now works as a pundit covering English football, says he does what he can to follow MLS, mostly through highlights and watching Red Bulls matches, and is impressed with what he's seen out of Atlanta in their first two years in the league.  

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"I do watch a lot of it [MLS]," he said. "I try to watch it in passing. I’ve got so much I need to keep in my head because of the Premier League and Championship stuff, but I do obviously make sure I see the Red Bulls games. You get a really good highlights package here now, so you get to see what’s going on.  

"Atlanta’s emergence in the last couple of years is literally phenomenal. The team, the fans – it’s amazing what they’ve done in the last couple of years."

Ian Wright was speaking in partnership with YouTube. To check out his brand new YouTube channel, please head to www.youtube.com/ianwright  

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