When Sporting Kansas City forward Teal Bunbury suffered a season-ending knee injury on Aug. 26, 2012, the club lost its third-leading goal scorer and one of its top options at the striker position. In other words, it lost a key asset.
Bunbury returned last June to a much different situation.
With the development of forwards C.J. Sapong and Dom Dwyer, along with the addition of Claudio Bieler last season, Bunbury was squeezed out of the rotation — and eventually off the roster altogether.
Sporting KC traded Bunbury to the New England Revolution on Wednesday in exchange for a 2015 first-round draft pick and allocation money.
"Obviously we're a team that's pretty top heavy at the forward position," Sporting KC manager and technical director Peter Vermes said. "Teal came to me at the beginning of the season and said the biggest thing (he) wants to do is play. I've done this for a couple of guys now (who) maybe aren't going to get the consistent playing time they're looking for."
Bunbury, 23, spent the first four years of his MLS career with Sporting KC after being drafted fourth overall by the franchise in 2010. He scored 19 goals and had seven assists across 89 regular season appearances.
After serving as a fixture in the starting lineup from 2010-12, Bunbury returned from his ACL injury on June 12 last season, but he struggled to find time on the pitch. He made only 12 appearances and one start last season.
"I am very excited and couldn't be happier to be joining (New England). So thankful for this opportunity. Ready to make an impact," Bunbury shared on his Twitter account. "That being said, I am so thankful and blessed for the time I had in Kansas City. All the fans showed me nothing but love through everything."
The opportunities figure to be more plentiful in New England, one of several teams to call Sporting KC in search of forward help, Vermes said.
Bunbury is expected to join his new squad in Tucson, Ariz., later this week.
"We've been very open about our desire to add some additional attacking players to our roster ahead of the season, and we believe Teal is a player who can make the sort of impact we need," New England general manager Michael Burns said. "He's a talented, young player who can add a dynamic element to our system."
The latest move isn't likely to be the final preseason roster move for Sporting KC, which continues its preseason training this week at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Fla.
"There's a good possibility there (are) going to be a few more players who will maybe join the team, but we're still working on those," Vermes said.