Teal Bunbury gets a shot to be a first-choice center forward again. Sporting Kansas City get allocation money and an extra first-round MLS SuperDraft pick to help replenish their roster after the next expansion draft.
That's a win for both Bunbury and his now-former club, Sporting manager and technical director Peter Vermes said after Bunbury was dealt to the New England Revolution on Wednesday.
“It's a couple of things,” Vermes said during a conference call shortly after Sporting opened the preseason Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic with a 1-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls. “Obviously, one is that we're a team I think is pretty top-heavy in the forward position. That's one. The other is that Teal came to me at the end of the season, and he said, 'Look, the biggest thing I want to do is I want to play.'”
That was more likely to happen with another club than with Sporting, Vermes said – and so he dealt Bunbury to New England, just as he traded right back Michael Harrington to Portland before the 2013 season. Harrington enjoyed a career resurgence with the Timbers, helping them reach the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League after a dismal 2012 season.
“This is not something I'm unaccustomed to doing,” Vermes said. “Obviously, I don't want to hurt us in the meantime.”
Bunbury, a first-round SuperDraft pick in 2010, was Sporting's No. 1 center forward when he went down with a torn ACL in August 2012. He returned to the pitch last season, but saw limited action with the arrival of Designated Player Claudio Bieler and the emergence of Dom Dwyer. He leaves Sporting with 21 goals in MLS regular-season and playoff competition.
“He's always been a professional guy, worked really hard,” Vermes said. “I think, unfortunately, that the one thing that happened to him was when he got his injury. He came back from it, but at the same time, other guys progressed and were in form at the time. But he's always been a pro. He's been a guy who's worked very, very hard in training and he's got a place here in this club, with the success that's taken place since the rebranding of the club. He was a big part of that.”
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The extra SuperDraft pick will come in especially handy next year, Vermes said, with Sporting likely to lose two players in the Expansion Draft to new sides Orlando City SC and New York City FC.
“That's been on my mind, with the potential to lose two players next year,” Vermes said. “It's always hard to replace those guys from outside of the league, and it definitely helps if we can find one or two guys in the draft who are going to have the potential to eventually be important players for the club one day. This gives us a little better shot to find somebody who can become an impact player.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.