KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Teal Bunbury may not be having quite the season he would have liked, but that didn’t stop Jurgen Klinsmann from requesting a closer look at Sporting Kansas City’s young striker.
Bunbury’s presence on the United States roster for upcoming friendlies against Costa Rica and Belgium raised a few eyebrows after what has been an up-and-down season for the forward, but Sporting manager Peter Vermes certainly wasn’t one of those harboring any doubts.
Vermes said the 21-year-old’s inclusion was fully expected and even alluded to the fact that a few more Kansas City players may be in line for call-ups in the not so distant future.
“Obviously, [Klinsmann] is going to try a lot of different players,” Vermes said. “I had a little bit of a heads-up on [Bunbury’s call-up], and I fully expect some other guys in the future [to get called up] as well. It’s good for Teal. I’m happy for him.”
Bunbury, whose only other taste of national team duty came under former manager Bob Bradley last winter, said he was excited soak up knowledge from a manager whose accomplishments as an attacking player on the club and international levels are nearly unrivaled.
“I haven’t met him yet,” Bunbury said of Klinsmann, “but I know his résumé. … It’s going to fun working with him, and I’m just going to try to learn as much as possible.”
Bunbury has five goals in 13 starts for Sporting this season and recently rediscovered his form after a brutal midseason stretch that saw him go scoreless in 15 consecutive appearances. He broke that slump by scoring a last-second goal against New England on July 30 to rescue a 1-1 draw and followed that up with an opportunistic strike against Real Salt Lake a few days later.
Those goals, along with improved play in general, have gotten Bunbury back in SKC’s starting lineup and helped prompt his inclusion on Klinsmann’s 24-man roster.
“It’s taken a little time,” Vermes said, “but he’s gotten himself back in the swing of things. He’s getting back into form. It’s a perfect time for him.”
The call-up doesn’t exactly come at a perfect time for Kansas City, however, as Bunbury is expected to miss the club’s showdown with the LA Galaxy on Sept. 5. Sporting will also be without forward Kei Kamara against the Galaxy.
Kamara and Sierra Leone will take on Egypt on Sept. 3 in a 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifier in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Kansas City will be able to count on the services of Roger Espinoza, though, even though the combative midfielder was called up by Honduras for their exhibition matches against Colombia and Paraguay. Vermes said he and Espinoza, along with Honduran manager Luis Suárez, discussed the situation and agreed it was best he remain in Kansas City for the match.
“Roger’s been a solid player for them for a while,” Vermes said. “He was at the World Cup. He’s in the team. We talked about it, and Roger agreed that it would be good for him to stay and be a part of the [Galaxy] game.”