FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Teal Bunbury has three goals in his last two MLS games, but he isn’t satisfied.
“To be honest, I was going in playing with a little bit of an edge,” Bunbury said. “I wanted to be starting the game, to be frank, and thought I deserved that. But I was able to come out there and whatever it was, working hard defensively, scoring a goal, getting an assist, I wanted to make sure I could do whatever I could to help my team and to help us win.”
Bunbury’s showing also ended a five-game losing streak across all competitions for the Revs, but his year has largely been defined by ups and downs.
All three of Bunbury’s MLS goals have come in New England’s last two games, and he didn’t start a match until July 2 at the Philadelphia Union, roughly 10 months since his last league start. During that stretch, the 27-year-old was an unused sub nine times and largely relegated to finding minutes in U.S. Open Cup play and sporadically off the bench.
Bunbury and New England coach Jay Heaps had an earnest conversation about the attacker being left out of the lineup against LA on Friday, one that left the striker visibly unsettled.
“All game, I knew he was spewing and he was upset and you just knew that if we get him in the game at the right time, if the game was opening up just a little bit, he was going to tear it apart,” Heaps said. “I give him all the credit because he took it hard yesterday, but carried himself well, came to the locker room and had a smile on his face but was angry. He went out and turned that game on its head. It was awesome.”
The hope now inside the Revs’ locker room is that a resurgent Bunbury could spark a surge up the Eastern Conference standings.
It was a sentiment goalkeeper Brad Knighton echoed, noting the Revs are starting to get vital pieces back. Xavier Kouassi made a substitute appearance against LA in a return from injury, Kelyn Rowe returned midweek from the Gold Cup and Juan Agudelo will be back from the US national team in time for next Saturday’s home game against Philadelphia.
Add Bunbury’s run of form, and Knighton said there’s reason to feel optimistic.
“He’s a complete pro,” Knighton said of Bunbury. “He comes in every day and he works harder almost than anybody else in waiting for an opportunity. He got his opportunity tonight and he took it. He scored two goals right when he came in and changed the game. That’s something we need. Not just 11 guys on the field, but the guys who come off the bench making an impact. Teal definitely did that for us tonight.”