Teal Bunbury’s season-ending injury is awful news for the young U.S. international and a real downer for everyone who makes the Blue Hell a little more hellish around Livestrong Sporting Park.
But all hope is surely not lost for SKC supporters. Far from it.
In terms of the bigger picture impact to Sporting Kansas City and its chances at capturing the playoff grandeur that proved slippery last year? Bunbury’s loss certainly won’t help, but the damage is fairly well contained.
First, having C.J. Sapong (pictured) as a backup is a blessing. The young striker isn’t fully fit just yet, but SKC manager Peter Vermes said after Sunday’s match that Sapong is 85-90 percent there. Get better fast, kid!
Physically, Sapong may not be quite at Bunbury’s level. But he’s not miles away, and his soccer IQ may actually be a little higher. So, that is impact softener No. 1.
Other options: Kei Kamara works as a wide man in the club’s 4-3-3 because he’s willing to put in the work along the wings, providing defensive cover in the right spots. But he always looks like a striker, one who is dutifully filling a role in a wide man’s position. He was an out-and-out striker before at Kansas City and at Houston, and he can be an effective one again.
If Kamara comes inside, that leaves at least one wing position open. I checked with Sporting KC spokesman Rob Thomson this morning. He said Bobby Convey is still fighting that hard-to-mend hamstring strain but expects the left-winger to commence full-on training within a week.
Once Convey is fit, it’s time to stand and be counted – that’s all there is to it. Untapped potential is a cursed thing, and that’s where we are at this point with Convey.
Jacob Peterson, performing well before a shoulder injury, is following roughly the same time frame. He’s an option for several spots.
Graham Zusi played wide in last weekend’s 1-1 draw with New York. It’s not his best usage – and he may soon have to rotate back inside, anyway, if Roger Espinoza grabs the cash and heads overseas.
There’s also the Soony Saad factor to consider; he continues to look like a forward with potential to spare.
So no one will rejoice at the thought of Bunbury along the sideline in a bulky knee brace. He’s a well-liked sort in addition to possessing all the talent, and it stinks that he’s gone for 2012 –especially when that might mean missing out on an Eastern Conference crown celebration dance and who knows what else?
But there’s no need to jump into the Missouri River over this one, either.