KANSAS CITY, Mo. – When Teal Bunbury finally takes the pitch, all the minutes he gets this season will be with Sporting Kansas City.
Manager Peter Vermes said the striker, who is nearing a return from last August's season-ending left ACL tear, would not go on loan to USL PRO affiliate Orlando City as he works back to match fitness.
“The biggest part of his progress is making sure that medically, he's where he needs to be,” Vermes told reporters after Monday's training session. “Our guys have been with him since the beginning. To now hand him to someone else who doesn't know what all the progress has been, the intention and what we're looking for – just from that perspective alone, it would not be good.
“Then the other is that for us, obviously we're going to bring him along based on the amount of time he's put into coming back,” Vermes added, “and not all of a sudden say, 'Ah, OK, you're ready,' and throw him on the field for 90 minutes and then risk injury or something else.”
That's more than fine by Bunbury – even though for him, the core issue is not health but reintegrating himself into his MLS squad.
“I would like to stay here with my teammates, travel with them and just be in the daily grind and gain that chemistry back after being away from it for so long,” he said on Monday. “Chemistry's the biggest part of it for me, working with the midfielders: how my movements are, how their movements are, how we think together.”
Bunbury could face the Lions as an opponent, though, in Wednesday's fourth-round US Open Cup match at Sporting Park. Vermes said last week – and repeated on Monday – that he would like to get Bunbury some minutes before putting him on an MLS game-day roster on June 22 at FC Dallas.
“I'm really excited to get back,” Bunbury said. “Probably, when I get back on the field, I'll be smiling the whole time.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.