The Sounders might be U.S. Open Cup champions for the fourth time in six years, but they still haven’t figured out how to dominate MLS with any consistency. Bradley Wright-Phillips scored in the opening minute and went on to notch a hat trick as the New York Red Bulls (10-8-11) doused the Sounders 4-1 Saturday night in Harrison, NJ.
The Sounders, whose only score came on a Clint Dempsey goal in the 62nd minute after he came off the bench, fell to 17-8-3.
Wright-Phillips tops MLS’s Golden Boot standings with 24 goals and has five regular-season matches remaining to break the league single-season record of 27 held by Roy Lassiter and Chris Wondolowski.
Wright-Phillips tallied 29 seconds into the match, converted a penalty kick in the 53rd and sent home a cross two minutes later. Tom Cahill completed the scoring for the Red Bulls in the 58th minute.
Stefen Frei’s block of an Ambroise Oyongo shot gave Wright-Phillips a chance for his rapid first goal from eight yards out.
The Red Bulls dominated time of possession, controlling the ball for 51.9 percent of the match. New York had 15 shots to Seattle’s 10, including eight on frame to Seattle’s six.
Coming off the Open Cup win to start their road trip, and with the Sounders facing three more matches in seven days, Coach Sigi Schmid elected to rest some of his regulars. Dempsey played 30 minutes and Obafemi Martins 31. Defenders DeAndre Yedlin and Zach Scott did not play at all.
Despite the loss, the Sounders remain three points clear of the LA Galaxy in the race for the Supporters Shield with a game in hand. Seattle moves to Dallas for a Wednesday match at 6 p.m. PT. The Sounders return to CenturyLink Field Saturday to face Chivas USA.