KANSAS CITY, Mo. — See if this sounds familiar.
Say there's a soccer player, born in Canada but also with an American parent and, therefore, dual citizenship. After playing as a Canadian youth international, the player then declares for the United States – and outrage ensues.
US women's national team forward Sydney Leroux, right? Of course, but before that, Teal Bunbury did the same thing. So if there's anyone in MLS who understands the events that led to Leroux's in-your-face goal celebration last weekend in a 3-0 friendly against Canada, it's the young Sporting Kansas City forward.
“It's a bummer,” Bunbury told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “But to be fair, when either country feels maybe they were betrayed - even though it's definitely not that way – they're going to have some resentment toward that person. And I don't condone it. I don't think it's the right thing to do, but it's understandable why they'd do it.”
Bunbury, who is nearing a return from the ACL tear that has sidelined him since last August, is the son of former Kansas City Wizards striker and Guyana-born Canadian international Alex Bunbury. He was born in Hamilton, Ontario, played for Canada's Under-17 and Under-20 teams, and said that his plans were to join that country's senior national team.
Then he accepted his first call-up to the US squad in 2010, making his debut as a halftime sub in a friendly against South Africa, and now has four caps and one goal for the Americans.
Leroux, who has been the target of “Judas” chants when playing against Canada, has said that her crest-popping, crowd-shushing celebration – which earned her a yellow card, the on-air derision of Sportsnet analyst Craig Forrest and a host of vitriolic tweets – followed a long period of racist and other assorted abuse on social media.
Bunbury won't say what the worst thing he heard after his switch was, but acknowledged that Canadian fans gave him a lot of grief.
“I don't want to get into that. It's water under the bridge. I don't even keep it in my head,” he said. “But yeah, whenever I'd go and play in Toronto or play in Vancouver, every time I'd touch the ball they'd boo me. So yeah, it's something that happens.”
“I don't know how else to deal with it but just to ignore it,” he said. “They're there trying to get a reaction out of you. You ignore it, maybe bang in a couple of goals – or just don't even bother with it and stoop down to that level.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.