Teal Bunbury has been missing in action since last year’s Eastern Conference Championship.
The big third-year forward struggled in the offseason with the US Under-23s, falling down the depth chart and losing his spot to both Terrence Boyd and Juan Agudelo. The same then happened in Kansas City, as Bunbury was largely relegated to spot duty during Sporting’s record-setting 7-0-0 start to the season.
But with SKC struggling, Peter Vermes felt compelled to make a switch up top last weekend. And it paid off, as Bunbury bagged a brace – his first two goals of the season – in his side’s 2-2 draw at Colorado, snapping a three-game losing streak.
More impressive than the two goals, though, were how Bunbury got them. Since Day 1 of his MLS career he’s been a one-trick pony, getting the vast majority of his goals on breakaways. Despite standing 6-foot-2 and weighing 175 pounds, he’d only scored once on a header, and never off a cross. He’s also been a below-average garbage man for a No. 9, rarely putting away rebounds or loose balls in the box.
So when he headed in his first two minutes in off a pinpoint Seth Sinovic cross, longtime fans had to sit up and take notice. When he cleaned up a spill in the box for his second 12 minutes later, it looked like – for one week, at least – Bunbury was reborn.
It was a big performance for a striker who needed it, and the numbers show as much, with Bunbury topping the Castrol Index Weekly Top 20 for Week 11.
As usual it’s more attackers rounding out the top five, with D.C. United’s Hamdi Salihi taking the No. 2 spot for his midweek performance against Colorado, Fredy Montero grabbing No. 3 with his late equalizer against Vancouver, MLS Player of the Week Dwayne De Rosario coming in at No. 4 thanks to his two-goal showing against former side Toronto FC, and San Jose’s Simon Dawkins claiming the fifth spot for his industrious outing against Columbus at the weekend.
Salihi also grabbed the No. 6 spot after tallying against Toronto FC on the weekend, his fourth in five outings.
Vancouver’s Alain Rochat was the top defender on the list at No. 10, thanks in part to his wonderful strike against the Sounders. Central defender Eric Brunner also found the net, and with it the No. 11 place in the Index after Portland’s much-needed 2-1 win over Chicago.
Perhaps the biggest head-scratcher for his inclusion is Toronto’s Ryan Johnson at No. 19. The big forward frustratingly missed another bagful of chances in his side’s 3-1 loss to D.C., but is given credit for getting in good positions in the first place.
Weekly Top 20 Performers - Week 11 Powered by Castrol Index
|1||Teal Bunbury||Forward||Sporting Kansas City||90||1,836|
|2||Hamdi Salihi*||Forward||D.C. United||90||1,730|
|3||Fredy Montero||Forward||Seattle Sounders FC||90||1,612|
|4||Dwayne De Rosario||Midfielder||D.C. United||90||1,586|
|5||Simon Dawkins||Midfielder||San Jose Earthquakes||90||1,330|
|6||Hamdi Salihi*||Forward||D.C. United||90||1,327|
|7||Blas Pérez||Forward||FC Dallas||90||1,259|
|8||Troy Perkins||Goalkeeper||Portland Timbers||90||1,253|
|9||Dan Kennedy||Goalkeeper||Chivas USA||90||1,169|
|10||Alain Rochat||Defender||Vancouver Whitecaps||90||1,158|
|11||Eric Brunner||Defender||Portland Timbers||90||1,144|
|12||Dane Richards||Midfielder||New York Red Bulls||90||1,091|
|13||Andy Gruenebaum||Goalkeeper||Columbus Crew||90||1,062|
|14||Matteo Ferrari||Defender||Montreal Impact||90||1,000|
|15||Matt Pickens||Goalkeeper||Colorado Rapids||90||984|
|16||Bill Hamid||Goalkeeper||D.C. United||90||977|
|17||Alan Gordon||Forward||San Jose Earthquakes||31||950|
|18||Ryan Meara||Goalkeeper||New York Red Bulls||90||944|
|19||Ryan Johnson||Forward||Toronto FC||90||937|
|20||Gabriel Gómez||Midfielder||Philadelphia Union||58||898|
*Makes list twice based on team's two games in Week 11