New England Soccer Today

The Bunbury Effect

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

The New England Revolution cruised into the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Red Bulls thanks to a shock-and-awe approach that resulted in a 7-3 aggregate win over the Columbus Crew during the Conference Semifinals.

While the offense is flourishing in many different areas, one player that continues to bring the Revolution offense to a new level is none other than the striker-turned-winger himself, Teal Bunbury.

New England blasted the Crew with a record seven goals during the Conference Semifinal. During the two-legged series, five different players found the back of the net for New England. Among those five was Bunbury, who also chipped in an assist during the second leg for good measure.

Coming into the 2014 MLS season, the hope was that Bunbury would solve the gaping hole at forward after Juan Agudelo departed. The former Sporting Kansas City forward played nine games up top to start the season, scoring just one goal and adding an assist as the Revolution offense struggled to get in gear.

So Bunbury was approached by the coaching staff about moving out wide. Bunbury, ever the team-first talent, accepted the task.

Since moving to outside midfielder, Bunbury found his niche and has surprisingly name for himself. Scoring three goals and dishing out four assists as out on the wing gave Bunbury the opportunity to play a solid part in the Revolutions regular season success. Success that, it should be noted, allowed them to punch their postseason ticket well in advance of the season finale.

Going into the series with the Red Bulls, the main focus for New York will likely be shutting down Charlie Davies and Lee Nguyen. The pace of Bunbury on the right wing, mixed with his shrewd dribbling skills, could open up opportunities for him while attention is paid elsewhere.

Defensively, Bunbury has the tendency to foul when put in tough situations, as seen by his 48 fouls, one shy of Nguyen’s team-high 49. Granted, that can cause problems for the Revolution. But because he’s willing to play physical brand of football, it could allow the Revolution to win the ball back in the rear. With the ball back in his team’s possession, expect Bunbury to use both his speed and strength to make himself an option going forward.

The 24-year old winger comes into the match-up against New York as a key and crucial part of the Revolution’s attack, and it’s not by accident. Bunbury’s emergence has forced last year’s leading scorer, Diego Fagundez, to the role of substitute thanks to his willingness to defend and distribute.

Both New York and New England have strong attacks at their disposal, to be sure, but it really boils down to which club can control the midfield better. More than any other game this season, New England needs Bunbury to step-up and control the outside midfield. Look for New England to mix-up their attack throughout the match to keep New York on their toes.

Match Prediction: New England 2—New York 2

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