FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – For the first time in his young MLS career, Teal Bunbury will face a former club on Saturday night when Sporting Kansas City visits Gillette Stadium for a postseason rematch.
Drafted fourth overall in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft, Bunbury spent four years in Kansas City and helped the club lift MLS Cup last season. He started two games in the 2013 playoffs, including the first leg of a hotly-contested Eastern Conference Semifinal Series against the New England Revolution.
But this weekend Bunbury will find himself on the other side of the burgeoning rivalry. Traded to the Revs in February for a 2015 first-round pick and allocation money, he’s now looking forward to his first chance to face off against his former teammates.
“It’s going to be very exciting playing against guys that I played with for four years,” Bunbury said. “I’ll be able to chat with them before the game, but once that first whistle blows, it’s all about the team. For us, we’re going to go in there with a game plan and that’s all I’m really focused on.”
Bunbury is particularly close with fellow forwards Dom Dwyer and Soony Saad, and throughout the week he’s exchanged playful barbs with the Sporting KC duo. He’s also quite familiar with the central defensive pairing of Matt Besler and Aurelien Collin, having trained against them on a daily basis.
“In training, they were just the same as in the games,” Bunbury said as he prepares to battle Besler and Collin in a game situation for the first time. “They’re focused, they’re committed, they work well with each other and it’s not going to be any different this weekend.
“I’m definitely going to be looking forward to testing myself against them. Training against them every day for the past four years, and now to be able to play against them in a big game for us, at home with our fans, it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Bunbury has only fond memories of his time in Kansas City and has no hard feelings about the trade which brought him to New England; in fact, he was thrilled about making the move to Foxborough.
But it’s only natural to feel a bit of extra motivation against a former team, and Bunbury admits it would be special to notch his first New England Revolution goal against Sporting KC.
“I definitely want to go out there and be a handful and put the pressure on them,” Bunbury said. “But there’s no ill will and I’m definitely excited for the matchup. I’m just looking forward to it.”