BRIAN SCIARETTA - Wednesday, October 5, 2011
With US national team camp now underway in Miami, Sporting Kansas City forward Teal Bunbury is aiming to show what he can do under head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
Bunbury, 21, has been capped twice by the US national team and the last time was in January against Chile when he scored via a penalty in a 1-1 draw.
Now with the US team for the upcoming friendlies against Honduras and Ecuador, Bunbury is looking for his first cap under the new coach.
"I don't really have any expectations ahead of the friendlies. It's always just an honor to be called in and represent your country's national team," Bunbury told YA. "It's just another opportunity for me to showcase what I can do and what I can bring to the team. I want to go in there, impress, and work hard. Hopefully we'll get some good results out of these games."
Bunbury was named to the US roster last month during the September international window but he did not make the gameday roster for the friendly against Costa Rica and then did not travel to Brussels for the Belgium game.
Despite not playing, Bunbury enjoyed his first camp under Klinsmann and felt that it was a positive learning experience for him.
"It's a great group of guys and we're trying to feed off each other, learn, and grow together as a team," Bunbury discussed. "It was an excellent camp for me. Klinsmann and the coaching staff were great and I learned a lot in that short period for time. I'm trying to implement that with my club team as I progress as a pro. I'm looking forward to hopefully many more experiences like that."
The US national team is now in a transitional phase as they learn to adjust to Klinsmann's philosophy which is vastly different from any of his predecessors.
For Bunbury, the style is a bit different than how Bob Bradley played the game but it is similar to how he played in college at Akron. It's an offensive system that encourages creativity and possession.
"Klinsmann is pretty attack oriented," Bunbury explained. "He wants us to have a style and a sort of swagger. He wants us to keep possession and have strong transitions. We have to get back defensively - not just defenders and midfielders but also forwards as well. We get back behind the ball and then go from there. It's a style I played while at Akron under Caleb Porter."
Bunbury is currently in his second season as a professional and like many players at that point in their careers, things have not gone as smoothly as they did in their rookie year. Bunbury began the season strongly but quickly hit a wall and had a string of performances that were subpar. This saw him loose his starting spot.
Bunbury admits it was a difficult time but responded to the challenge by gradually earning his spot back in the starting lineup and scoring goals. So far this season he has eight goals and three assists. In his most recent game on Saturday, he scored against San Jose as the teams played to a 1-1 draw.
"There was a period there where I wasn't scoring and my performances were not at my potential or ability," Bunbury pointed out. "I had to take a look in the mirror and realize I had to step it up. I think for the past couple of months I've begun to start performing well and most importantly, helping my team out."
Despite the early season slump, Bunbury is confident he is a better player now than he was last year. In addition to the coaching he has received at Kansas City, Bunbury has also received feedback on his game from other sources.
Last offseason Bunbury trained in England with Stoke City and he also went on the Generation Adidas tour in Europe with other top young MLS players. Following that, he spent three weeks with the US national team in January.
This upcoming offseason Bunbury is planning on another trip to continue his development and to receive coaching from more sources.
"I'm going to be planning something but it isn't finalized yet," Bunbury said. "Within a month I'll have something finalized for the offseason. But I can't take the whole two and a half months off. I need to be playing and I need to be improving."
Bunbury is very specific when discussing the improvements in his game. He is a fast player but learning how to use that speed is something that he has worked on and will continue to work on in the future.
"I feel like I've learned a lot of things," Bunbury concluded. "It's been simple things like the timing of my runs and reading where my midfielders are playing to try to get myself in the best possible position. I want to get the ball facing the goal. Just basic things too like playing one-two touch in the middle third of the field and then in the final third trying to take defenders on and make plays while not being afraid to mess up."
Bunbury and the US national team will take on Honduras on Saturday in Miami then they will travel to New Jersey for a Tuesday matchup against Ecuador.