KANSAS CITY, Mo. – As Sporting Kansas City look to jump-start their offense and halt a three-game skid, help could be forthcoming from a streaky striker who’s beginning to find his form again.
Teal Bunbury, who led the club with 12 goals in all competitions last year but hasn’t yet found the net in league play in 2012, is coming off a two-goal performance in last weekend’s 3-1 Reserve League win over Chicago.
And while Bunbury insists his confidence wasn’t down before that brace, manager Peter Vermes has noticed a difference.
“He played very well in the reserve game, and when he scored his first goal, he had a lot of life in him,” said Vermes, whose Sporting side (7-3-0) plays Saturday at Colorado (9 pm ET, watch LIVE online). “Everything changed about him in that game.”
Bunbury also acknowledged the lift the goals – his first of 2012 at any level – gave him.
“If you get one goal, it’s basically like the next 10 games you feel like you’re going to score every game,” he told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “It’s definitely a thing for strikers. Once you start scoring, you feel like the goals are going to keep coming.”
That would be a good thing for Sporting, which has just one goal over the course of their slide. And if there’s one way to earn more minutes from Vermes – who is loath to tinker with an established lineup – it’s to perform well in training and reserve action.
“He’s been getting chances to play,” said Vermes, who made Bunbury his First Kick starter but has used him exclusively as a sub since his return from the United States’ disappointing performance in the Olympic qualifying tournament. “Does he get more? Sure. He’s been working hard, and I think that’s the part that’s really good. He hasn’t shied away from it. I’m sure we’ll see him continuing to get more playing time.”
Might that include a return to the starting XI, perhaps as early as Saturday – especially with starter C.J. Sapong scoreless over his last six outings – after scoring three goals in Sporting’s first four matches? It’s a possibility, but Vermes won’t say when.
“Only time will tell,” he said. “But he has the ability to do that, for sure.”
Bunbury hasn’t doubted that ability – and now he’s starting to get the results to back up that self-assurance.
“I’m feeling good. My confidence was never lost or anything like that,” he said. “I’m just waiting for the right opportunity and trying to impact the game as much as possible.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.