Graphic by Dallas Kreil | IG: @dak_design
With his team coming off of an impressive win on the road and facing a short-rested New York Red Bulls team, Teal Bunbury and the rest of the New England Revolution still found themselves in a difficult position in their Fourth Round match in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. The Revolution were trailing 2-1 late in the second half and knew that they needed to make every shot count. The team’s fortunes have slightly turned around in Major League Soccer play since new head coach Bruce Arena took over last month but without an equalizer the squad would be one-and-done in the US Open Cup for the second year in a row.
Bunbury made almost every one of his shots count late in the game during his 120-minute performance. With two goals on three shots including both the equalizer and an incredible game-winner in extra time when the Revs were playing with 10 men, Bunbury was voted TheCup.us Player of the Round for the Fourth Round. The award is voted on by TheCup.us staff and a select panel from the North American Soccer Reporters and select backers (those that pledge $10 or more) from TheCup.us’ Patreon team. Bunbury narrowly edged Devon Sandoval of New Mexico United who led the USL Championship team to an upset of the Colorado Rapids. Saint Louis FC goalkeeper Tomas Gomez received strong support and finished in third place.
In a game that had only seen him have one shot all game, Bunbury came up big for his fellow Revs on the road when it mattered most. First, his quick feet out-paced defender Amro Tarek and allowed him to find space, cut back to his right foot and shoot low past Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara to the opposite post. The goal came in the 85th minute and the match would head into extra time tied at 2-2.
However, before extra time could begin, New England’s Luis Caicedo was sent off after receiving a second yellow card in stoppage time.
This made Bunbury’s 109th minute game-winner even more impressive as the Red Bulls were in control for the first 18 minutes of extra time with the man advantage.
The Ontario via Minnesota native scored what might very well be the goal of the round and the tournament when he stole a Red Bulls pass near midfield and raced down the left wing where he was held up by both Tarek and Tim Parker just as he entered the penalty area. He stopped, looked up and sent a chip shot toward goal that squeezed between the crossbar and a jumping Meara and into the net for the eventual game-winner.
“Obviously I love scoring. I love working for my team. I love winning. Everybody loves winning,” said Bunbury after the game. “I’m just really proud of the guys. When I’m put in those positions – guys playing great balls, and I’m one-on-one with a defender or the ‘keeper – I’ve got to keep up my end of the bargain and finish those chances.”
With those two goals, Bunbury has scored a grand total of eight goals in the US Open Cup between his tenures with Sporting Kansas City and New England. Since joining his current club in 2014, his six scores are tied for second in New England history with Kelyn Rowe, and rank just one behind the club’s all-time leader Taylor Twellman with seven. Eight goals also puts Bunbury into the Top 20 of the Modern Era (1995-present), tied with players like Brian McBride and Herculez Gomez. While the goal doesn’t count in his career total, Bunbury’s first professional goal came in a US Open Cup qualifying match with the Kansas City Wizards (Sporting KC) in a 2-1 loss to the Colorado Rapids.
With the award win, Bunbury becomes the first non-Open Division participant player to take home POTR honors this year. He and his team will remain on the road for the next round as they head south and take on Orlando City SC in the Round of 16.