New England Soccer Today

Teal Up Top Gives Revs ‘Different’ Look

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Teal Bunbury is no stranger to the striker’s role, but after getting the bulk of his minutes in the midfield over the last two seasons, it was somewhat of a surprise to see the winger slotted up top for the second half of Wednesday’s 2-1 preseason win over the Dynamo. The move, though, paid immediate dividends.

The 25-year-old midfielder scored and assisted within a 20-minute span to help the Revolution collect its first Desert Diamond Cup victory, one in which Bunbury took center stage after he was asked by coach Jay Heaps to reprise the role he performed during the early part of his career in Kansas City.

“Sometimes it’s fresh, because Teal is a number nine though his career, so he’s been playing on the wing a lot,” Heaps told the media after the match. “I think he had a different perspective, and I think that’s good. Having the ability to flip those guys and provide coverage at center forward and provide depth at center forward is really good.”

There is irony in the way Bunbury was used on Wednesday. He was originally acquired by the Revolution in March 2014 to fill the void left by Juan Agudelo’s ill-fated overseas journey, but hit some early season-speed bumps before he was eventually reassigned to a wide position during them middle of the season.

The move proved to a fruitful one for both Bunbury and the Revolution. After scoring only once in his first seven games up top, the former Sporting KC man went on to finish the season with a career-high six assists and four goals as the Revolution rode their way to the MLS Cup final.

While Bunbury – who also scored in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Sporting KC – has looked the part of the winger for the most part since the transition, that clearly hasn’t stopped Heaps from tinkering with his front four.

With Agudelo – a striker by trade himself – stationed in the midfield, and Bunbury positioned up top for the second half on Wednesday’s match, the Revolution immediately stepped on the pedal when Bunbury latched onto a Donnie Smith ball, then chipped keeper Joe Willis to open the scoring in the 48th minute.

“I think it’s good that we just could get an early goal,” Bunbury told the media after the match. “I was in that center forward role and it’s my job to make runs and transition chances. There was some great balls being played in. Donnie Smith played in some excellent balls. Michael Gamble (too).”

Shortly after the Dynamo equalized on a Cubo Torres goal, it was Gamble who found Bunbury inside the Dynamo end, where the born-again striker beat the offside trap and played an easy ball to Steve Neumann, who deposited it into an open net in the 68th minute.

“I don’t like talking about myself too much, but I’m pleased with the way I’ve been playing,” Bunbury said. “More importantly, I’ve been pleased with the way our team has been doing.”

While Bunbury has never been one for self-promotion, Heaps had no qualms praising his versatile veteran after the match.

“We wanted to try something a little bit different,” Heaps told the media after the match. “I think we know Juan and Teal can be interchanged. Tonight, we made a conscious effort to really give Teal the minutes up top, and I thought he did excellent. I really like what he brought up there.”

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