[MLS SPOTLIGHT]A player isn't often happy about getting traded from a league champion, but Teal Bunbury says he was ecstatic when he got the news he'd been traded from Sporting Kansas City to New England. And it took all of 20 minutes for him to show he's ready to contribute, scoring in his preseason debut for the Revolution against Chivas USA Saturday night in Tucson, Ariz.
"It felt unbelievable," he said after Saturday's game. "I was so excited to be on the field. The past couple of days in training, I've had fun with the guys but to get in a preseason game and get a feel of how they really play is great. Now, they kind of embraced me to be part of the team. And also to get the goal feels good."
The trade came down on Wednesday as Bunbury, who struggled to get back in the Sporting KC rotation after injuring his knee in 2012, was dealt to New England for a 2015 first-round draft and allocation money.
"I was not surprised about the trade," he said. "I was ecstatic after I heard about it. I couldn't be happier to be here. I keep smiling. It's a young, youthful group and I'm building friendships already."
Juan Agudelo, 21, teamed up with 22-year-old Kelyn Rowe and 19-year-old Diego Fagundez along with 27-year-old Lee Nguyen to give the Revs one of the most exciting attacks. They combined for 31 goals and 23 assists in 2013 -- not bad for a team that had scored only 39 goals a year earlier.
The Revs have three other returning forwards -- Honduran World Cup candidateJerry Bengtson, Dimitry Imbongo and Charlie Davies -- along with Saer Sene, who is recovering from a broken ankle. But Bengtson, Imbongo and Davies had only four goals between them, so Revs coach Jay Heaps has been looking for a new attacking partner for Rowe, Fagundez and Nguyen now that Agudelo has moved to FC Utrecht.
Bunbury, turns 24 on Thursday, says he loves playing with all of them.
"Diego likes to check inside," he said, "and I can play off of him. Same thing with Nguyen and Kelyn as well. It's going to be a fun partnership. It's really exciting. It's feels good. Most important, I'm gaining confidence with the guys, that's the biggest thing. Coming in with a new team, you're really clicking or and you're working hard for them, so it's about learning to be on the same page."
Bunbury says the Revs' coaches have been telling him to just do what he knows how to do well: "Using my strength, using my speed. Trying to get linked up, make runs in behind, trying to get the ball and lay it off in the box. And as a goal scorer, your main job is to score goals."
Heaps liked what he saw from Bunbury in its 45-minute debut with the first team that led Chivas USA 2-1 at the half in a game the Revs ended up losing, 3-2.
"We saw someone who understands what we're trying to do," said the third-year Revs coach. "He's very good pressing the ball and excellent in connection with our other guys. And he scored a great goal, so he had a pretty good 45 minutes."
Heaps says finding a forward who can work with his big three will be critical for their success.
"It really helps us stretch defenses," he said, "and it helps the midfield get a little more depth so it can hit penetrating balls instead having people collapsing on us."