With trust of Brad Friedel, Revs' Teal Bunbury thriving at center forward

Teal Bunbury - Celebrates goal - against Montreal

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – During a summer 2017 stretch of six goals in eight games, Teal Bunbury’s answer for what clicked was simple: more playing time.

Now, amid a run of three goals in four games, the New England Revolution forward’s answer bears a different tenor. Bunbury says it comes down to coach Brad Friedel trusting him at Bunbury's preferred center forward spot, rather than his role switching between central and wide positions under previous Revs coach Jay Heaps.

“It’s trying to be consistent, it’s buying into the system we’re playing, it’s working hard in training,” the 28-year-old said of his red-hot form.

Along the way, he’s beaten out big-contract forwards in US international Juan Agudelo and Hungarian international Krisztian Nemeth for the starting role. It’s a strong vote of confidence from Friedel, all in a high-press system where an industrious player like Bunbury has thrived.

Friedel says Bunbury has also developed a strong understanding with creators Diego Fagundez and Cristian Penilla, and is applying training ground lessons to game situations.

Such was the case last weekend against Columbus Crew SC, when Bunbury shook himself free of Jonathan Mensah in the 18-yard box, finishing past Zack Steffen at the far post.

“That isn’t just because he’s an industrious player,” Friedel said. “That’s a clever run with timing.”

Bunbury says he's been motivated by his growing family. His wife Kaity gave birth to a baby girl named Sienna during the offseason. She’s now 6 months old, leading to some sleepless nights.

“It’s an an extra edge knowing I’m not only playing for myself, but for my wife and daughter as well,” Bunbury said.

Up next for the Revs’ forward: Saturday's match against Western Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City (7:30 pm ET | Full TV & Streaming Info), Bunbury's former team.

The then-Kansas City Wizards drafted Bunbury out of Akron in 2010. Even now, Bunbury says he has “all the respect” in the world for SKC head coach Peter Vermes, and is close with former teammates Matt Besler and Graham Zusi.

“Outside of the game I’ll be friends with everyone, but during the game, time to work,” Bunbury said. “We’re playing at home, and my motivation is just going to be playing well for my team and hoping we can win.”