FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Players often talk about visualization being the key to success. Imagine it happening, and it’ll happen. But Teal Bunbury didn’t envision himself coming off the bench to score a pair of goals in a 4-3 win over the LA Galaxy on Saturday night.
In fact, he didn’t envision himself coming off the bench at all.
Bunbury, who’d started back-to-back games and scored his first regular-season goal in the New England Revolution’s last league match on July 5, was informed on Friday afternoon that he’d be returning to the bench when the Revs hosted the Galaxy. It was not the news Bunbury wanted to hear.
“He didn’t like it,” said Revs head coach Jay Heaps, calling his conversation with Bunbury “the hardest conversation [he’d] had with a player in some time” and admitting he’d lost sleep over the decision. “All game I knew he was stewing and he was upset, and I just knew that if we got him in the game at the right time – if the game was opening up just a little bit – he was going to be able to tear it apart.”
Heaps was right. Bunbury was on the field for just five minutes before he nodded home Kelyn Rowe’s right-wing cross to give the Revs a 3-2 lead in the 70th minute, and it took just three more minutes for him to find a second goal, finishing off Andrew Farrell’s low cutback with a first-time strike.
“To be honest, I was kind of going in playing with a little bit of an edge,” Bunbury admitted. “I wanted to be starting the game, to be frank. I deserved that … I just wanted to make sure I could do whatever I could to help my team and help us win.”
“I give him all the credit because he took it hard yesterday,” Heaps said. “He carried himself well (today), came into the locker room and had a smile on his face, but he was angry. But he went out and just turned that game on its head and was awesome.”
Bunbury’s late brace capped off a wild win for the Revs, who also got goals from Lee Nguyen and Kei Kamara as they snapped a four-game losing streak in league play.
The three points gained on Saturday night aren’t a magical cure-all – the Revs still find themselves eight points back of the playoff places in the East and were frustrated to concede three times at home – but it was a critical spark ahead of another vital home game against the Philadelphia Union next weekend.
“These three points are huge,” said Bunbury. “We still have a lot of games to go and we have to make sure we keep these performances going. That’s an important key for us, to make sure we capitalize with this win and keep moving forward.”