KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Before the MRI, before the official diagnosis, before he even reached the sideline while being helped off the LIvestrong Sporting Park pitch, Teal Bunbury knew.
His left ACL was torn, his season over.
But when Sporting Kansas City’s injured center forward made an appearance at training on Wednesday, two days before his scheduled surgery, he smiled easily and often – and promised to return stronger than ever in 2013.
“My faith has helped me through a lot,” he said. “I’ve been getting a lot of texts, calls, people on Twitter, e-mails – it’s been great. All the support has really been keeping my spirits up. It’s nothing I can get down about. It’s not going to help my knee heal faster. So I’m already over that. I’m just looking forward to next season and watching these guys win the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup this season.”
WATCH: Bunbury sets up Kamara, tears ACL
Bunbury, who ends the 2012 season with five goals in MLS play and six across all competitions, will be out six to eight months following surgery.
He tried to continue after being hurt as he assisted on Kei Kamara’s fourth-minute goal in Saturday’s 1-1 home draw against the New York Red Bulls.
“I wanted to stay out there,” he said. “I thought, ‘It’s only been five minutes. I don’t want our team to have to use a sub already. I’m going to try to make it to halftime.’ But it felt too loose, and I had to come off.”
Taking a worst-case approach to the injury when he came out meant there was no blow from the diagnosis, Bunbury said.
“If I’d told myself, ‘Oh, it’s just a hyperextension,’ or something like that, and then I would have gotten the news that it was the ACL, then I probably would have been more down,” he said.
Bunbury even found himself reassuring Red Bulls goalkeeper Bill Gaudette that he hadn’t caused the injury when the two made contact at the edge of the penalty area. Bunbury was already hurt by then, landing awkwardly from a collision with center back Markus Holgersson just seconds before.
“He’s a classy guy,” Bunbury said of Gaudette. “I told him, ‘Hey, it’s not your fault.’”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.