Thanks to Coca-Cola, MLS Multiplex got the chance to catch up with Bradley Wright Phillips and Greg Garza as part of the MLS All-Star Game activities.
The popular ‘Share a Coke’ campaign is back this summer for the fifth year. Coke is better when shared with friends, family, even stranger. And this summer, there is myriad opportunity to do just that with more names and ways to share one than ever before.
Coca-Cola, as the Official Fan Refreshment of MLS for the past three years, held a ‘Share Chair’ event in Atlanta and our Josh Bouland got to go and have a nosy around, including having a chat with two MLS stars, Bradley Wright-Phillips of the New York Red Bulls and Greg Garza of Atlanta United.
You can read what they had to say to Josh below. These interviews have been condensed and edited for clarity.
Interview with Bradley Wright Phillips
Josh Bouland: First, I just want to say congratulations on 100 goals scored in your career. If you could pick one trait you used the most to reach that achievement, which would you choose?
Bradley Wright Phillips: I’d have to go with consistency. Consistency in training, consistency on the pitch, in everything. That’s the only way I was able to reach that milestone.
JB: I attended the New York-Atlanta match in May, and you killed us with two goals.
BWP: That was a weird game. We didn’t really destroy you guys, you know with the way that started. That Josef Martinez goal (that was disallowed through VAR) could’ve changed the game, but it was an exciting game. Every time we’ve played you [three times] it’s been a good game.
JB: I’m excited for when Atlanta travels up to Harrison to play you guys in a few months.
BWP: It’s going to mean a lot as well [towards the end of the season].
JB: Speaking of Josef Martinez, do you think you can catch him in the Golden Boot race this year?
BWP: (laughs) I think it’s ridiculously out of my hands! This guy has been a beast this season, and also last season I think he got injured right?
JB: Yes he missed about half of last season.
BWP: I think it would’ve been the same last season. This guy is staking his claim as the best striker this season in MLS. That’s on everyone else to improve and catch up to him. I wish him the best of luck and hope he smashes that record.
JB: That was going to be my next question, actually.
BWP: Yeah I hope he smashes it and gives someone else something to chase, that’s how we get better.
JB: This is your second All-Star experience. Have you been to Atlanta, outside of a regular road trip, and are you excited to experience the city?
BWP: No, I’ve never been before [outside of league play]. Normally when we come, it’s business. I think even now, it’s a bit of business. I think you can have a lot more fun, see the city, and see the people a little bit more with the All Stars. There’s a lot more free time… I’m going to be walking around, checking out the city, chilling out.
JB: Do you have a favorite moment from your last All-Star Game in Portland (2014)?
BWP: I scored a goal that’s out of character for me. Outside the box, left footed. I have to say that’s one of the best goals I’ve scored, against a great team (Bayern Munich). I couldn’t have asked for anything more from an All-Star game.
JB: Are you excited to be playing against Juventus?
BWP: I am.
JB: Any particular challenge you think they might pose for the All-Star team?
BWP: I know from watching Italian football they’re very hard to score against. They’re good defensively, most teams are good defensively. It’ll be interesting to play against that back line and it will be interesting to see how much room we’ll get and how many chances we’ll get.
JB: Speaking from your experience in Portland, what is it like coming together so quickly with an unfamiliar staff, teammates, and an unfamiliar area for training? What are some of the challenges with that?
BWP: It’s a relaxed environment from the coaching staff, but I think just whenever you get a chance to talk to the players you know you’ll be playing with, you ask them what they like and where they like to run and you find some things out. Plus we see each other every week in league play so I know how certain players play. If I’m on the same team as, let’s say [Diego] Valeri, I’ll try and make clever runs in behind because I know he’s got a good assist in him.
JB: Are you excited to be playing for Tata Martino?
BWP: Yeah he’s a legend. To be on a team that he’s coaching, that’s always going to be magical for a player. I’m one of those players that’s excited.
Interview with Greg Garza
Josh Bouland: How is the shoulder rehab coming along?
Greg Garza: It’s officially eight weeks into everything so I’m finally out of the brace and into active therapy. I’m feeling a lot better, I’m feeling like I can actually move my arm a bit better. I have hopefully another two and a half, three months to go, so hopefully, we’re looking towards the end of October.
JB: Just in time for the playoffs!
GG: Hopefully, that’s the goal. If not, we’ll see what happens, but that’s definitely the goal each and every day with the PT guys.
JB: Obviously with soccer, you rely on your feet, but how important is your shoulder in your game?
GG: In my game, I probably wouldn’t say much. I’ve had major hip surgery and stuff like that, which is more worrisome in my career. The shoulder is just more tough to realize how much you actually need it to run and the vibration and impact and reaction and you don’t realize it until you have surgery and you can’t lift your arm for seven weeks. I’m finally able to shake hands, do the simple things in life, and that’s helped a lot to gain confidence and hopefully gain as much confidence I need to be back in the timeframe that we have.
JB: The All-Star Game is here in Atlanta; you live around here, work around here, what do you think makes playing here so unique?
GG: The fanbase. The fanbase here is everything. They’re obviously the reason, I think, why we do so well in both these seasons. I think they have a tremendous impact filling up each seat in Bobby Dodd and Mercedes Benz Stadium. Our success transfers from them bringing that success and I’m very thankful and grateful for the fanbase that we have and hopefully, I’m sure they’ll bring that same energy for the All-Star Game against Juventus on Wednesday.
JB: Do you have any advice for the All Star players this week?
GG: (laughs) Just don’t get injured like I did last year, that’s the only big thing for me. But no, these guys should just go out and have fun. Mine was, unfortunately, a bad luck experience, but I can say one thing, I go to play Real Madrid at Soldier Field, and that’s one thing I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
Our thanks to Greg and Bradley for their time and for the Coca-Cola Share Chair event.