Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
KC's Bunbury leaves sophomore jinx behind
by Ridge Mahoney, November 2nd, 2011 2:12AM

MOST READ
TAGS:  kansas city wizards, mls

MOST COMMENTED

[MLS SPOTLIGHT] It's great to play in an attacking team that prefers a 4-3-3 formation designed to put opponents under pressure, as long as that system and its elements are producing.

When the goals dry up and results turn sour, the intensity and confidence of young players can wane. For a second-year pro who marked his rookie season with a U.S. national team debut, the burden can be stifling.

The sophomore season of Sporting Kansas City forward Teal Bunbury might have seemed jinxed when he labored for nearly four months without scoring. After hitting three goals in SKC’s first three games, he wandered into barren terrain.

Mitigating circumstances, he had a few. SKC opened the season with 10 road games during which it scored 12 goals yet was also blanked four times. Clearly, during this feast-or-famine period, some were destined to go hungry at times.

“In a player’s career, there’s always ups and downs,” says the 21-year-old son of former Canadian international Alex Bunbury. “It’s a matter of the environment you’re in and how you’re able to bounce back in a way. Maybe in the middle of the season there was a time I wasn’t getting playing time, I wasn’t scoring goals, and things weren’t really going my way.

“But I stayed true to it, kept working hard in training with my teammates giving me support, and my faith in Christ helped get me through that time. I’ve been able to progress, look at myself in the mirror, and pick my game up.”

After winning just one of those first 10 games, SKC rolled through the rest of the schedule with 12 wins, nine ties, and just three losses. It won three of its last four games, with Bunbury scoring twice, to capture the Eastern Conference crown.

He finished as co-team leader in goals with nine, tied with Kei Kamara and Omar Bravo. Those three often comprise the front line, with Bravo and Bunbury playing out wide and Kamara stationed in the center. Yet all three, plus rookie C.J. Sapong when he gets on the field, can stretch and pierce defenses with their mobility.

Bunbury and Sapong accounted for all of SKC’s goals in a 3-0 defeat of Houston Sept. 10 that lifted SKC into first place for the first time since the opening day of the season. He opened the scoring in the ninth minute and tallied again in the 72nd; Sapong tacked on the third seven minutes later. A 1-0 loss at Real Salt Lake in the next game dropped it back down to second, but a with a five-game unbeaten run it regained and held the top spot.

Bravo sat out the first leg of the playoff quarterfinals against Colorado with a groin strain, so Sapong joined Bunbury and Kamara in the forward troika. Bunbury glided past Tyrone Marshall to score early in the second half, and 10 minutes converted a penalty kick awarded when Marshall was judged to have fouled him in the penalty area.

The merits of the penalty decision and red card to Marshall were hotly debated, and SKC certainly took advantage of a Rapids’ team hit by injuries several times during the game. But the effectiveness of Sapong taking Bravo’s place gives the MLS Cup dreams of SKC fans further credence.

“It’s great to play with any of my teammates and he’s a very talented player and in my eyes the Rookie of the Year,” says Bunbury. “It was a good opportunity for him and myself to also play up top with Kamara.  I think we all have the same kind of physical attributes -- our size, our speed – and I think we jell well together.

“Off the field we’re great friends, we hang out, and I feel like that’s helped our charisma or the way we jell together on the field as well. I try to learn things from him, he tries to learn things from me. This is my second year in the league and I guess I try to give him as much advice as I can, you know.”

Just about all the factors have lined up for Sporting Kansas City. As the Eastern Conference champion, it drew a wild-card team, and though that team turned out to be last year’s MLS Cup winner, SKC not only leads the series on total goals, 2-0, its foe has been stripped of seven starters because of injuries. If SKC gets past Colorado, it avoids the other Western teams to face either Houston or Philadelphia for a spot in MLS Cup.

“We definitely can’t get overconfident,” says Bunbury, one of many products from the University of Akron to quickly establish himself in MLS. “That’s going to be the worst thing for just, going into the game thinking that we’ve already won it. So we’re going into this game like it’s a 0-0 game, and we’ve got to take it to them. We’ve got to stay disciplined and play the same soccer we’ve played all season long.

“It’s going to be great to be at home at Livestrong Sporting Park, with our fans supporting us. It gives us an added edge, but we know Colorado’s going to be ready to take it to us as well. They know what they need to do to get back into it, so we’ve got to be ready for them.”



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
Business Reporter: Union teams up with Dogfish Head    
The Philadelphia Union will open to a new destination beer garden with Dogfish Head Brewery at ...
Columbus switches USL PRO affiliations    
The Columbus Crew will team up with the Austin Aztex to send players from its first ...
Lee Nguyen: Sitting back is not in Revs' DNA    
The New England Revolution tied an MLS record when it scored nine goals in its first ...
What They're Saying: Jerome Valcke    
"It is easy to destroy a reputation, it takes one second, it takes years to build ...
Champions League scenarios: 11 teams for five spots    
Eleven teams have qualified for the knockout stage of the Champions League, and 11 more teams, ...
Video Pick: Bend it like Uesato    
Our favorite free kick goal of the week comes from J-League 2, where Consadole Sapporo's Kazumasa ...
Breaking down the NCAA Division I women's quarterfinals    
The NCAA Division I Women's Tournament moves into the quarterfinals with three games on Friday and ...
A back-heel sombrero from Greek boy     
[VIDEO PICK: Skills] Greek youth soccer, in a game between AO Ioannina and Agia Eleousa, delivers ...
What They're Saying: Jose Mourinho    
"Obviously they must be very sad with the result but when we lose against a team ...
Report: W-League champion Pali Blues are folding    
The LA Blues won W-League titles as the Pali Blues in 2009, 2009 and 2013 and ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives