It’s never good to lose a game 3-0, but the worst thing to happen to the New England Revolution on Sunday might not actually be the result. Rather, it could be the injury to Teal Bunbury.
While we don’t have an update on the condition of Bunbury, it wasn’t good to see him leave the pitch with a right shoulder injury. Highlighting the severity of the situation was the fact that the Revs were forced to play the latter stages of the match a man down as they had already exhausted all of their subs. More information about the injury should be released soon as Bunbury is expected to be assessed in Boston today.
The loss of Bunbury, even for a short time, would be bad for the Revolution, who re-signed the midfielder this offseason. While some fans have moaned about Bunbury’s consistencies, it’s undeniable that he’s an important part of the team.
In his first year in Revolution colors, Bunbury played 31 regular season games (28 starts), contributing four goals and six assists. His most memorable moments came in the playoffs, however. First, Bunbury hit a curling beauty to give his team a 1-0 lead over the New York Red Bulls in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Final. Later, Bunbury had a shot that would've won the Revolution their first-ever MLS Cup if not for the post.
It’s also worth noting that Bunbury is willing to contribute defensively. In fact, it’s one of his strengths.
On Sunday, Bunbury made four tackle attempts, completing two. In the category of aerial duels, Bunbury had a 71% success rate over his seven attempts. Compare these numbers to Diego Fagundez, who played opposite of Bunbury. The 20-year-old finished the game with one failed tackle attempt and two failed aerial battles.
Losing Bunbury would create a vacancy and although the team has impressive midfield depth, there isn’t a player quite like him.
If Lee Nguyen is ready to return, Kelyn Rowe could relocate to the flank. It’s not his preferred position, but it is a place where he found moderate success in 2014. Historically, Rowe hasn’t shown the same defensive grit that Bunbury brings, though it should be noted that the Washington native did look more physical on Sunday.
Sean Okoli provides another wing option. Okoli played 22 minutes against his former club on Sunday and although he didn’t register any successful defensive contributions, he was effective when challenging opposing defenders. In fact, Okoli found himself in three one-on-one situations, proving success in two.
Steve Neumann could also serve as a fill-in if Bunbury is ruled unfit to play. Neumann made a league-high 20 substitute appearances last year and will be pushing for a starting spot this year. Neumann replaced Fagundez in the 77th minute against the Seattle Sounders and completed all seven of his passes.
A more creative option would be to make Charlie Davies the starting striker with Juan Agudelo manning the flank. This would be an attack-minded decision that many fans have been clamoring for. Davies had some good spells as the team’s lone forward in 2014, especially during the playoffs. Meanwhile, Agudelo found a lot of success on the peripheries during the 2013 season.
With no official word on the status of Bunbury, fans should be waiting on bated breath for news since any time off for the midfielder could be bad for the Revs.
All statistics were taken from Squawka.com.