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Wright-Phillips scores 3 goals to lead Red Bulls past Dynamo 4-0

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HARRISON, New Jersey — Maybe just a touch of the flu is what New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips needed.

The English forward, who had one goal in seven games last season, missed Tuesday's training session with a fever, but recovered enough to score three goals Wednesday night and lead the Red Bulls to their second straight victory, 4-0 over the Houston Dynamo.

"We thought it was only a matter of time before he scored a goal and then got hot," Red Bulls coach Mike Petke said. "But three goals tonight? I did not see this coming."

Wright-Phillips, who joined New York in August, was the first Red Bulls player to record three goals in a match since Thierry Henry in March 2012 against Montreal.

"I just try to do the same thing all the time," said Wright-Phillips, 29, the younger half brother of England midfielder Shaun Wright-Phillips, who plays with Queens Park Rangers. "I didn't think it was my night. I just try to do the same thing.

"No matter where I go, I think I can score goals. I scored today. Next game, I might not be scoring and you guys might be interviewing somebody else."

The win earned New York some measure of revenge against Houston, which beat the Red Bulls in Harrison last November to eliminate them from the playoffs.

Henry had the other goal for the Red Bulls, who were winless in their first six games but improved to 10 points and within one of Eastern Conference leaders Sporting KC and the Columbus Crew.

PHOTO: New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles, left, and defender Jamison Olave, bottom, slide to stop the attack of Houston Dynamo's David Horst during the second half of an MLS soccer game on Wednesday, April 23, 2014, in Harrison, N.J. The Red Bulls won 4-0. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles, left, and defender Jamison Olave, bottom, slide to stop the attack of Houston Dynamo's David Horst during the second half of an MLS soccer game on Wednesday, April 23, 2014, in Harrison, N.J. The Red Bulls won 4-0. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Houston is winless in its last five.

Wright-Phillips put New York ahead in the 12th minute after Kosuke Kimura sent a through ball down the right side into the path of a streaking Henry. Unmarked, Henry had time and space to turn and send a bounding ball to the top of the six, where an equally unmarked Wright-Phillips easily deflected it past Houston keeper Tally Hall.

His second goal was similar 12 minutes later. Left back Roy Miller slid to win a ball from Houston counterpart Warren Creavalle on the left touchline and advanced unchallenged into the Dynamo penalty area. There, he sent a low bounding cross that Wright-Phillips was able to redirect at the edge of the six to just inside the far post.

Wright-Phillips helped hike the lead in the 65th minute, sending a cross in front of the Houston goal that Hall had to punch out in front. Henry ran onto the free ball and easily converted from the middle of the penalty area.

Wright-Phillips completed his hat trick in the 86th, converting a penalty after Henry was brought down in the area.

"He had a little bit of flu-ish symptoms yesterday, in practice," Petke said, before adding with a laugh, "so I told him hopefully this Friday he'll have the flu again."

The Red Bulls play at Columbus on Saturday.

"It just wasn't a good night for us," Houston coach Dominic Kinnear said. "Probably the third goal, but we were still getting chances after that. After that third goal went in, it's definitely a big mountain to climb."

Both teams were without significant regulars. New York did not dress injured midfielder Tim Cahill and suspended defender Ibrahim Sekagya, while Houston was without U.S. national team midfielder Brad Davis, who missed his third straight game with an injured ankle, and Kofi Sarkodie, who was ejected against Philadelphia on Saturday.

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PHOTO: New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles, left, and defender Jamison Olave, bottom, slide to stop the attack of Houston Dynamo's David Horst during the second half of an MLS soccer game on Wednesday, April 23, 2014, in Harrison, N.J. The Red Bulls won 4-0. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
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