FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Several key pieces will be missing for the New England Revolution’s critical visit to Orlando City SC on Saturday night, but there is potential good news with regards to Teal Bunbury.
The veteran forward, who has missed the last two games after a hamstring injury forced him off early in the Revs’ 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire on August 24, is making steady progress and could be in line for a return at Exploria Stadium this weekend.
“It’s possible,” said sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena. “We’ll see as we get through the week.”
Bunbury said he doesn’t like setting timetables on a return from injury, but he did say that he’s “pretty close to full fitness” after getting involved with passing drills and operating as a neutral in possession games on Tuesday morning.
“I’m feeling really good. Each day it’s getting better,” Bunbury said. “Everyone’s doing a great job trying to get me back to full fitness, so I’m just trying to push myself.”
There is, however, a delicate balance to how hard Bunbury is pushing himself. With just five games left in the regular season and the Revs perched in the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot, it’d be tempting for Bunbury to rush himself back in an effort to play a role in pivotal upcoming matches.
But rushing back too quickly from a hamstring injury could prove disastrous, as any sort of setback could see Bunbury miss even more time, precisely the situation he’s trying to avoid.
“I want to be playing every game, but I have to be smart,” Bunbury said. “We’ve got playoffs coming up and we’ve got to make sure that my body’s right. That’s for everybody. Everybody needs to be mentally ready, getting their bodies right, because these games are crucial.
“We only have one chance to get this right, and I don’t want something acting up again. But I’m definitely moving in the right direction and feeling good.”
Bunbury’s potential return in Orlando would be a boon for the Revs, who will be missing Juan Agudelo and Wilfried Zahibo to suspension (yellow-card accumulation) and Edgar Castillo to a rib injury.
Meanwhile, the Revs await the Disciplinary Committee’s decision on their appeal of Antonio Delamea’s red card, which if denied, would see the veteran center back suspended, as well.
“If it doesn’t work out, we’ll be fine,” said Arena. “But I think this one’s a no-brainer. We should win the appeal.”