When going up against his former team, the Dallas Burn, this Sunday, MetroStars defender Tenywa Bonseu claims that it will just be another game.
"It's like playing any other team in the MLS for me," Bonseu said.
Recently for Bonseu and the MetroStars, this means working hard to continue their current five-game league unbeaten run and expand their seven-point lead in the Eastern Conference. Although much talk has been placed on players such as Amado Guevara and Eddie Gaven, the former Burn defender has recently played a key role in preventing opposing teams from hitting the back of the net.
Bonseu's recent performances have quieted skeptics who criticized the MetroStars for trading popular defender Steve Jolley for the Ugandan and a third round 2004 MLS SuperDraft pick prior to this season. Although Bonseu had difficulty holding his place in the center of defense earlier this season, he has recently been a strong contributor - this time at right back.
With the injury to Jamaican international Craig Ziadie, MetroStars head coach Bob Bradley decided to slot Bonseu on the right - a position the defender is familiar with through Ugandan international team duty. Since the switch, which took place on July 24 in the Metros' 2-1 win against Chicago, Bonseu has been crucial to the MetroStars' defense while providing surging runs for the offense on the wing.
"When we called on him to fill in out there, I think he felt like it was a really good opportunity, that he played there for other teams, felt comfortable there and could help our team," Bradley said. "He really deserves a lot of credit for taking the opportunity and making the most of it."
Although Bonseu has recently been successful, he described his first season with the Metros as "challenging," trying to adjust to different players and environment. However, he said his newest adjustment - moving from center back to right back - has been a change which he has enjoyed.
"I think it gives me opportunities to go up front and when I play right back, it's a different role for me because it's more of an attacking role. In the center, you're limited in [how far you can move forward].
Even though Bonseu will square-off against the dangerous Eddie Johnson and Jason Kreis this Sunday, last weekend's game against the Los Angeles Galaxy proved that he could hold his own against top offenses.
The Metros held the high-scoring Galaxy scoreless for the second time this year en route to a 3-0 victory - a win which was marred by five cautions and a red card. Bonseu knows of the potential threat that Johnson and Kreis pose, but said that he will approach the game in the same manner he does for any other game.
"I don't play my game worrying about who's coming," Bonseu said. "I just to prepare to play on any given day."
And hopefully, drawing from the last three performances by Bonseu and the MetroStars, "Red and Black" fans hope that Sunday will "any another game."
Another former Dallas Burn player and current MetroStar Joselito Vaca has provided a strong boost to the midfield over the past few games according to Bradley. Vaca, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Thursday, has played in each match of the Metros' current five-game unbeaten streak.
"Jose I think, has picked up his level of intensity, he's been more active, he's been involved in more plays and I really think that's an indication of how much more he can do," Bradley said. "I think his intensity [has increased] to get involved more, make more plays, be stronger to use his body and come away with loose balls. I think he's started to step up his whole level and it's a growing process, he's still a young player."
Concerning this weekend's opponent, the Dallas Burn, Bradley said that the Metros needs to work hard to earn the result. In the teams' last match, the Burn scored two second-half goals at Giants Stadium to beat the Metros on June 5. This time, Bradley said the team has learned from their mistakes from the teams' previous encounter.
"The main thing is that you can never take a game for granted," Bradley said. "Last time, I felt like we had our opportunities but we didn't have a strong enough push to finish the job and Dallas came in and took three points in our stadium. That's not something good teams can allow."
Tickets are available for all MetroStars home games at the Continental Airlines Arena box office and at all Ticketmaster outlets. Tickets will also be available through Ticketmaster by phone for callers in New Jersey (201-507-8900), New York (212-307-7171), and for Spanish-speaking customers throughout New York and New Jersey (212-307-4757).