Wilmington Hammerheads midfielder Kenny Bundy has been named the TheCup.us Player of the Round for the Second Round of the 2009 tournament. Bundy came on as a 68th minute substitute for Wilmington in their match against the Carolina RailHawks of the USL First Division, and scored a goal in the final minute of extra time to tie the match at 3-3. Bundy also converted one of the Hammerheads’ penalty kicks in the tiebreaker.
In another narrow vote, Bundy edged Ocean City Barons goalkeeper Tunde Ogunbiyi and Portland Timbers forward Mandjou Keita. Ogunbiyi kept a clean sheet in the Barons’ 1-0 upset win in overtime against the Real Maryland Monarchs of the USL Second Division, and Keita scored two late goals to seal the Timbers’ 3-0 victory over the USASA’s Sonoma County Sol.
The Player of the Round is selected by the staff of TheCup.us and members of the North American Soccer Reporters, a group that consists of members of print, television, radio and online media. More information about the NASR can be found at www.soccerreporters.com.
Bundy’s first run with the Hammerheads was from 2004-06, where he had 11 goals and 10 assists in his 57 games. He left the club to become the Director of Coaching at the Cape Fear Soccer Association, but after a two-year abscence, has come back. Bundy has one goal and three assists this season for the resurgent Hammerheads who are looking to return to the USL Second Division playoffs after missing out the last three seasons.
His tally against Carolina was Bundy’s third career Open Cup goal. The other two also came in Second Round matches, with the first in a 5-0 win against Dallas Roma FC (USASA) in 2005 and the other in 2006 when Wilmington eliminated the PDL’s Virginia Beach Submariners, 3-1.
The goal came just two minutes after Carolina’s Gavin Glinton seemingly gave the RailHawks a 3-2 win, and was the result of a long free kick which was headed toward Bundy. Bundy then beat Carolina goalkeeper Caleb Patterson to send the game to penalty kicks. In the penalty session, Bundy scored on Wilmington’s second attempt on their way to winning the tiebreaker 4-3.
We had the opportunity to chat with Kenny recently for TheCup.us’s Player of the Round Q&A.
TheCup.us: Can you tell us about your dramatic equalizer and the wild extra time session between your Hammerheads and the Carolina RailHawks? And how does it rank for you personally?
This was one of the most exciting games I have ever been a part of. The fact that every time a goal was scored the opposite team had a response within two minutes was amazing. We went into extra time knowing the next goal could win the game and scoring that goal three minutes into extra time gave us a huge boost of confidence. There is a split second when we went down 3-2 with two minutes left that doubt set in. As that ball was traveling into our final third it’s funny because you see everything slower and when Timmy headed that ball through all I had to do was get a touch and it was all tied up. If you watch the replay there are several opportunities where that play could have been disrupted, but it was our night.
TheCup.us: After a few disappointing seasons, what would you say is the biggest reason for the Hammerheads’ turnaround this year?
We all have the same goal, win the league and do well in the Open Cup. From the day we started preseason we have been working toward that goal. We have a good core of veteran guys who lead by enthusiasm and by example. Our younger players have experience from the top leagues and colleges, which is experience in its self. This is the balance that I think the teams in the past seasons have lacked.
TheCup.us: You have returned to the Hammerheads this season after a couple of years involved with the Cape Fear Soccer Association. What prompted your return? Are you still involved with Cape Fear and can you tell us about the organization?
Coach Irving called me after the New Year and had a plan to change the team dynamic around. He was bringing in some older veteran players like Chris Bagley and Tim Karalexsis. He asked if I wanted to be a part of this team. Obviously I was in. We discussed my job with Cape Fear Soccer and how we could work the schedule around each other. The Hammerheads have been fantastic about Cape Fear and my obligation. I am a Director with Cape Fear Soccer. We have around 2200 kids and 350 adults in our program. I also coach the 94 Breakers White and the 98 Breakers White. Coaching has become a passion of mine. Everyday I get to wake up and do what I love in a field that I have been involved in my whole life.
TheCup.us: This will be the third MLS team Wilmington has faced in the Open Cup. You took F.C. Dallas to extra time in 2005 and played a tight game with the Red Bulls in 2006. Does your history of being able to compete with the country’s top league give you guys confidence that you can pull off an upset on Tuesday?
Anything can happen at Legion Stadium in Wilmington, NC. We expect it to be a sell out crowd with lots of energy. We have arguably the best fans in the USL-2. Combine that with our team and this is a hard place to play.
TheCup.us: What are some memories you have from previous Open Cup games?
The one that sticks out the most is going into Dallas and going up a goal in the first half. At that moment it didn’t matter what league you were in. The two open cup games this year will stick with me for a while. Both games going long into the game to get a winner. This tournament is special in that aspect that any team from any league on any given night can win.
TheCup.us: Next up is the Chicago Fire … what do you expect from them on Tuesday?
We expect a very good team. Look at there roster, they have exceptional talent and they played a very good style of soccer. I expect a battle. We don’t care who comes into our stadium, we always worry about our game and believe that if we play our way we will come out on top.