Kansas City selected Teal Bunbury with the fourth overall pick in January, making the 20-year-old Canadian the first son of a former MLS player to be drafted into the league. A few months into his rookie season, MLSsoccer.com caught up with Teal Bunbury to see how life in Major League Soccer compared to his college days at Akron, where he led the nation in goals with 17 as a sophomore.
MLSsoccer.com: You are six games into your first professional season now. How has everything been so far?
TB: So far it’s great, you know. I’m getting some time in. I wasn’t expecting anything big. I come in to training, work hard and try to get a starting spot. I’m just learning from a lot of the veterans how to take everything serious as a professional. It’s not messing around, and you can tell that coming into practice, everyone is dedicated and hardworking. That’s what I love.
MLSsoccer.com: How has the transition been so far from the college atmosphere to a professional environment here in Kansas City?
TB: I think there is always an adjustment period when you are going into something new and a new environment. You kind of try to put your mark on it, but overall it’s been pretty easy, I’d say. The fact that you don’t have class and things like that is very helpful. After training, I’m dead, so I just want to go back and take a nap and rest. Coming into training sessions, it’s always hard, but afterwards you feel good.
MLSsoccer.com: How do you think coming from a program like Akron helped you adjust to the transition?
TB: I think it helped a lot. The coaching staff there was amazing and they were preparing me for this level here. Each day in practice you could tell they were dedicated to helping each player try to be the best that he could be. I feel just the way we trained and how we played emphasized how to be a professional.
MLSsoccer.com: You have gone from being the man in college to being a little lower on the totem pole and fighting to get on the field.
TB: I feel like I have dealt with it pretty well. Wherever I’m at my mindset is always to give my all, and try to be a starter. Each day in practice, I’m trying to prove myself. Every game, I’m trying to prove myself. There is always an opportunity to showcase your ability, and when I get that opportunity I want to take it and enjoy it.
MLSsoccer.com: Where have you and the coaching staff identified areas to shore up in order to continue progressing as a player?
TB: We have discussed a few things, like working on my left foot and my heading. Just using my size, because when crosses come in I have got to be better with my head. But overall I think there are really a lot of things I can work on to try to take it to the next level.
MLSsoccer.com: Your college teammate Blair Gavin scored his professional first goal for Chivas USA. Have you gotten a chance to talk to him about that?
TB: I didn’t see it live, but I saw it eventually and gave him a call. He was freaking out because when we were together in college, he only had one goal really other than some PKs and stuff. It was pretty similar to the goal he got at Akron. I was giving him some grief about that. It was nice to see that he and Ben Zemanski are getting great time out there. They’re starting and doing what they do.
MLSsoccer.com: Your dad (former Wizard Alex Bunbury) is a guy who played in this league, and I hear he’s been at the games. How’s that been to have him around to see you play?
TB: It’s great having the family support. My mom has been coming down as well, which is nice. He’s always giving me pointers. When I was younger, it was kind of intense. But now he is lying low and kind of letting me figure out the ropes for myself. He’s given me great input and just helping me out.
MLSsoccer.com: What kind of advice has he given you?
TB: Right now, he’s just telling me to stay mentally tough and go into training always dedicated, show the coaches that you want a starting spot and not back down.