Jamaica woos New York Red Bulls striker Bradley Wright-Phillips
Jamaica is looking to load up on its goalscoring firepower for upcoming World Cup qualifiers by wooing one of the most prolific club strikers in the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF).
Former England youth international, Bradley Wright-Phillips, who led Major League Soccer in scoring last season with a MLS record-tying 27 goals playing for New York Red Bulls, is being recruited by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), which is trying to convince the 30-year-old London-born player to join the Reggae Boyz' campaign.
"Yes, we have reached out to Bradley Wright-Phillips," national team manager Roy Simpson confirmed on September 10.
According to Simpson, Wright-Phillips, son and brother of ex-England internationals Ian Wright and Shaun Wright-Phillips, respectively, traces his Jamaican roots through his grandmother.
He has 41 goals in 64 appearances since joining the Red Bulls in 2013, scoring 13 in 25 games so far this season.
Starting with his professional debut in 2004, he scored 77 times in 272 appearances representing Manchester City, Southampton, Plymouth Argyle, Charlton Athletic and Brentford in the United Kingdom.
But the lure of international football has not been overtly strong for the 5' 8", 155-pound Wright-Phillips so far. According to sources, he has followed Jamaica's progress in recent competitions, including Copa America and the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and discussed the national set-up with clubmate and Reggae Boy Kemar Lawrence. But, he's been uncertain about his commitment.
Simpson said Wright-Phillips expressed appreciation at the JFF's interest in him. However, he added, the player requested time to discuss the matter with his family after being contacted by the JFF in early August.
Simpson said Wright-Phillips, a MLS All-Star, didn't set a deadline for making a decision on whether or not to join Jamaica, which resumes World Cup qualifying on November 13 against Panama to kick off the CONCACAF semi-final.
The Boyz advanced to that round after defeating Nicaragua 4-3 on goal aggregate, following a 3-2 loss in the first leg on September 4 and winning 2-0 in the return match on September 8.
Those fixtures again highlighted inconsistent scoring form as Jamaica failed to capitalise on numerous chances. The team, which has received praise for overall organisation and competitive spirit, also failed to score in three straight 1-0 defeats during Copa America.
In the Gold Cup, Jamaica managed eight goals and conceded six in half dozen games while advancing to the final.
Jamaica wants Wright-Phillips to join a strike force that includes Darren Mattocks, Giles Barnes and Deshorn Brown. Even in the absence of his immediate commitment, the JFF is pushing forward with the process of making him eligible to play for Jamaica.
"Both parties agreed that it is OK to pursue the paperwork," said Simpson, "just in case he decides to take up the offer."
Efforts to contact Wright-Phillips through his club this week were unsuccessful.