Sporting Kansas City announced Monday that forward Teal Bunbury would miss the remainder of the 2012 season and perhaps even the start of 2013 after tearing ligaments in his knee.
“I talked to him today, and he has a very good attitude about everything,” coach Peter Vermes said. “I have faith and trust in our medical team and rehab guys that he’ll come back as strong or stronger than before.”
Bunbury suffered the injury early in Sunday’s first-place showdown against the New York Red Bulls at Livestrong Sporting Park.
He beat defender Markus Holgersson to the ball, popping it high for an assist on Kei Kamara’s fourth-minute goal, but tore the ACL and damaged the LCL in his left knee in a collision with New York goalkeeper Bill Gaudette.
It stood as Sporting KC’s only goal in a 1-1 draw.
Bunbury, who had five goals and an assist this season, is scheduled for surgery Friday. Sporting KC’s team orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Scott Luallin, will perform the surgery.
“There’s never a good time to have an injury like this, but Teal was definitely in form and was a strong reference point for us on the attack and as a first line of defense,” Vermes said. “He’s been playing very good for a while now.”
Selected No. 4 overall in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft, Bunbury, 22, has 21 goals in three seasons with Sporting KC, including the two he scored in last season’s playoffs. That is the most in the league for any active player age 23 or younger.
In 75 regular-season games, Bunbury, a speedy Canadian-born striker, has 19 goals and also has a goal in four appearances with the U.S. men’s national team.
During the last four games, Bunbury had two goals and an assist. He was picking up slack as reigning MLS rookie of the year C.J. Sapong has been sidelined much of August with a strained right hip flexor.
Sapong — who subbed in the 14th minute against New York after Bunbury tried to play through the injury — will get the first crack at moving back in the starting lineup.
Vermes characterized Sapong as being 85-percent fit.
“Having played significant minutes last night, he’s getting closer to 100 percent,” Vermes said. “I’d say maybe 85 or 90 percent right now.”
Vermes also said that Jacob Peterson, who is out with a dislocated shoulder, might return to practice as early as next week.
Bobby Convey ought to return sometime in September as well, while Soony Saad has been a regular among the game-day 18 lately. Rookie first-round pick Dom Dwyer could be in line for minutes if needed.
“We’ll miss him, but we’ll make it work for sure,” Vermes said. “That’s why you’ve got to have depth and have guys who play multiple positions.”
Sporting KC, 14-7-5, which has a two-point lead over the Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference, returns to action at 7:30 p.m. Saturday against Toronto FC at Livestrong Sporting Park.