BOSTON – Brian Wright took a measured moment to soak up the experience as New England Revolution supporters chanted his name following Wednesday night’s 2-1 win over D.C. United, a result that booked the Revolution’s spot in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals.
“It was a pretty good feeling, to be honest,” Wright said. “Hopefully there are many more of those.”
Wright no doubt earned his plaudits, drawing the free kick to set up Diego Fagundez’s stunning finish on the stroke of halftime before scoring the game winner – his first professional goal – shortly after the halftime break.
For the rookie forward, who was facing MLS opposition for the first time after debuting against the Rochester Rhinos two weeks ago, it was a performance that showed exactly why the Revs used their first-round pick on him in this year’s SuperDraft.
“We see that in training; we’ve just got to get that onto the big field,” head coach Jay Heaps said, praising Wright for his finish but also his tireless holdup play. “A couple of weeks ago in the Open Cup against Rochester, there were moments. But tonight was a really solid performance from him all the way around.”
Deployed as a lone forward flanked by Femi Hollinger-Janzen and Teal Bunbury on the wings, Wright was often the conduit for New England on Wednesday night, tasked with occupying D.C.’s center backs and bringing the rest of the Revs’ attack into the fold.
It was something of a new role for Wright, who described himself as more of a “stretch forward” in college who used his pace to get in behind opponents’ backlines.
“We really focused on it the past week-and-a-half in training; I was really focusing on my body position,” said Wright. “I thought I did a better job today with holding the ball up, giving our team a breather to be able to bring the other guys into the attack.”
Wright’s efforts were deserving of a goal, and in the 48th minute, he got his reward. Moments after hitting the woodwork with a lunging effort the young forward got in behind United’s defense and calmly finished under the onrushing Travis Worra.
The goal capped a performance that may well put Wright in the mix for his first MLS minutes, particularly as the shorthanded Revs cope with a string of injuries and international call-ups.
“It’s a good thing, being a young guy, to be able to get my minutes here (in the Open Cup),” Wright said. “They always say just keep working hard in practice, and when your opportunity comes, try to make the most of it. I thought I did that tonight.”