Sunday, April 27, 2014
Bunbury's 1st Revs goal beats former team
By Brian O'Connell
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Teal Bunbury might not have been pressing to score his first Revolution goal, per se, but it certainly seemed like it had been weighing on his mind in recent weeks.
But after watching point-blank shots veer wide of frame, sail over the bar, and or be detoured by late-arriving defenders, Bunbury finally broke through in dramatic fashion in Saturday's 2-0 win over his former club, Sporting Kansas City.
Teal Bunbury celebrates after scoring late in the second half to give the Revolution a 1-0 lead over Sporting KC.
After 90-plus minutes of scoreless action, Bunbury -- who found himself on the wing rather than at forward on Saturday -- did just enough to steer a Darrius Barnes ball into the back of the net to grab goal No. 1 of his Revolution career.
"(There are) definitely a lot of emotions," Bunbury said about scoring the goal. "But most importantly, I'm just excited we were able to get a win. Our performance from the first minute to the last minute I thought was world-class. Everybody was fighting, everybody was putting pressure on them."
It could be argued that nobody was trying to put more pressure on Kansas City than Bunbury, who had seemed like a jinxed man inside the final third this season. But Bunbury wasn't the only one who'd seen chances go begging this season. And the opening half of Saturday's clash was proof of that.
In the 6th minute, Diego Fagundez played a pass to his left for Lee Nguyen, who found himself with an open look at the near post. But Aurelien Collin slid into the way before Nguyen could get his shot off.
Nine minutes later, Jerry Bengtson grabbed a pass from Nguyen over the top, and found himself alone on Eric Kronberg. But the Honduran's shot went well wide of frame.
While the Revolution weren't able to convert on their early opportunities, they didn't let it affect them defensively. Kansas City entered the game fresh off a 4-0 thrashing Montreal, but they struggled to press the issue against their opponent, failing to put a shot on target until the 59th minute.
"I think anytime you stay in a grind -- I thought we grinded it out," Revolution coach Jay Heaps said. "We were not perfect by any means."
They may not have been perfect, but their resolve remained. Bunbury chipped in on both sides of the ball, and helped thwart the high-pressure approach that Kansas City is known for.
"The positions are different, definitely, when you're out wide," Bunbury said of the switch from striker to winger. "You can get the ball facing defenders, you can get runs in behind and it's more of trying to be a nuisance to their fullbacks. It's also a lot more defensively tracking back and making sure you're in the right positions."
Bunbury and his teammates appeared poised to get the goal that had eluded them all evening after Aurelien Collin was sent off in the 74th minute for a harsh tackle on Fagundez inside the final third. But after 16 minutes of regular time elapsed without a goal, well, it seemed as if it simply wasn't meant to be for the hosts.
But in the 92nd minute, Fagundez whipped a ball into the box, with Bunbury lurking at the post. The pass initially found Barnes, who quickly redirected it ahead before it met the chest of Bunbury and fell into the back of the net.
"I just saw Diego had the ball and I wanted to make a run," Bunbury said. "I didn't want to be too early when he whipped it across. I don't even remember what part of the body it hit on me, but I knew it hit the back of the net. I was really happy."
And with good reason. Not only had Bunbury broken seal - both on the game and on his personal stat sheet - but he'd done it against his former club, no less.
Though Bunbury said that he wasn't any more eager to score against his ex-teammates than usual, it was easy to tell by the smile he sported as he spoke to the media that getting that first goal -- as ugly as it may have looked -- seemed to take away the pressure he'd put on himself over the last few weeks.
"For me a goal's a goal, and I really couldn't be happier for that," Bunbury said. "But it's really the work of the teammates that have kept my spirits up through these games, you know, not scoring yet. So, this definitely feels good."