Sporting Kansas City forward Teal Bunbury is back on the U.S. Men’s National Team.
Bunbury, who was surprisingly left off the CONCACAF Gold Cup roster this summer by former U.S. coach Bob Bradley, was named to the team by new coach Jurgen Klinsmann for upcoming exhibitions against Panama and Costa Rica.
“They’re going try a lot of different people in the coming months, so it’s good for him that he’s getting call back,” said Sporting coach Peter Vermes.
Bunbury, 21, has had an up-and-down season for Sporting. He appeared primed for a breakout season after an excellent debut with the national team last winter – his first with the club – but suffered a dislocated elbow in preseason training last February and was forced to miss almost a month of action.
He returned in time for the second game of the season, on March 11, against Chicago and scored a goal. He followed that up with a two-goal outing against Vancouver the next week.
But Bunbury soon fell into a deep slump, as he went 15 consecutive appearances without scoring a goal, blowing a number of scoring chances along the way.
Bunbury, however, has started to come out of it recently. He broke his scoreless streak with a game-tying goal against New England in late July, then followed that up with a goal in Sporting’s 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake on Aug. 8.
“It was going to take some time for him to get back in the swing of things,” Vermes said. “But he’s pushed through it and he’s definitely on the other side of it and continuing to move forward.”
Bunbury, who has five goals and two assists this season, is expected to play in Sporting’s game Saturday against FC Dallas, but will likely miss Sporting’s next game, a Sept. 5 showdown against the Los Angeles Galaxy. Forward Kei Kamara, who will join Sierra Leone for a African Cup of Nations game against Egypt on Sept 3, will also miss the Galaxy game for a second-place Sporting team that’s already banged up and will surely miss Kamara and Bunbury’s presence.
“It’s a shame to have all those guys leave, but that’s the way it goes,” Vermes said. “Guys have stepped in and done a good job before, and they’ll have to do it this time, as well.”
Espinosa will stay
Like Bunbury and Kamara, midfielder Roger Espinosa was expected to be gone next weekend for national team duty, as well. However, after some dialog between Vermes, Espinosa and Honduras’ coach Luis Suarez, Espinosa decided to remain with Sporting.
“His games aren’t qualification matches, and he’s already been in the World Cup,” Vermes said. “If he doesn’t need to go in for those games, we need him here. We talked to his coach about it and he said no problem.”
Little-used defender Shavar Thomas will go on national team duty, as he has been selected to join Jamaica for a friendly against Ecuador on Sept. 2. Thomas, however, isn’t expected to miss any games.