By JUSTIN FERGUSON
Although their shock fourth round exit in the U.S. Open Cup has Sporting Kansas City fans feeling extra blue, they can take at least one positive away from Wednesday night’s loss to Orlando City.
Forward Teal Bunbury made his first appearance since last August in the loss, coming in for Jacob Peterson in the 76th minute.
Although the 23-year old, who has been out for these last 10 months with an ACL injury, was “bummed out” following the defending champions’ close home loss, he said the appearance is a big deal for him mentally in the comeback process.
The Canadian-born Bunbury has made four appearances for the U.S. National Team with a goal on a penalty kick, against Chile in a January friendly. His recovery comes just in time for the second half of the season, where he should be key for a Sporting KC side that will be competing in MLS play as well as the CONCACAF Champions League.
Here are some more notes from around the Eastern Conference:
After missing a month of MLS and World Cup Qualifying matches, Houston center back Jermaine Taylor is targeting a return to action on June 19, when the Dynamo face Montreal.
“I think I’m at a nine right now,” Taylor told MLSSoccer.com. “I’m just trying to use the practice sessions and trying to get ready for the big one coming against Montreal. Overall, I think all the guys are ready to go to Montreal and do our best.”
Houston has started two different back lines in their last two MLS matches, each of which finished 1-1. Taylor believes more consistency in the back could help his team get out of its current winless slide in league play.
The Impact back line could be in even more trouble for their upcoming match with the Columbus Crew. While veteran Alessandro Nesta will miss Saturday’s road trip because of a red card, left back Dennis Iapichino could be out after missing training on Wednesday.
“Dennis Iapichino felt a little pain in the lower body and we will follow over the next two days,” assistant coach Mauro Biello said to TVA Sports. ”This is our only left back at the moment, so we’ll be careful.”
NEW YORK RED BULLS
Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke did not hold anything back in his comments following his team’s 4-2 Open Cup loss to the New England Revolution, even going as far as calling the Revs “a mediocre team.”
“Fact is we lost to a mediocre team because we were way less than mediocre. It happens,’’ Petke said. “In the first half, it didn’t feel good. You could tell something was amiss.’’
Red Bulls general manager Andy Roxburgh joined in the post-match frustration by taking aim at the field conditions at Harvard University, where the Revs hosted their first match in Boston city limits.
“That was a lottery,” Roxburgh said. “That was primitive in the extreme. But what can you say? First of all the pitch is terrible, the environment wasn’t conducive, put it that way.”
Union head coach John Hackworth called for more consistency following his team’s 3-1 exit to struggling D.C. United in the U.S. Open Cup Fourth Round.
“I don’t know if I’d call it complacency, but to put my finger on it I’d need a little bit of time to get away from it and to look back at the tape,” Hackworth said to Philly Soccer Page. “It wasn’t good enough. Our start and our mentality, which was so good against Columbus, was equally as bad tonight.”
Hackworth hopes the upcoming friendly with the Harrisburg City Islanders could help with some of the team’s issues, but he is more focused on the team’s consistency in competitive matches.
Though they won a crucial U.S. Open Cup match on Wednesday, not everyone was smiling in the locker room.
Forward Chris Pontius, who has struggled all season to score and create goals but has been a starter nonetheless, was taken off at halftime with a suspected concussion. After the match, head coach Ben Olsen said there was no timetable yet for Pontius’ return.
“He told me he didn’t have a concussion. I’m not buying it for a second,” Olsen said to the Washington Post. “He didn’t look so hot so we’re going to get all the testing done.”
The 26-year-old has started 11 of the 13 games he’s played this season for D.C. United in all competitions.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
The New England Revolution have had a successful past month, going unbeaten in their last seven matches in all competitions with a record of five wins and two draws.
One of the key components to the great run of form is the play of midfielder Kelyn Rowe, who is finally starting to blossom after scoring just three goals a year ago in 30 MLS appearances. Rowe’s two goals on Wednesday against the New York Red Bulls have given him five goals in his last four games played, three of them wins.
Clearly, his performances have been impressing Revolution head coach Jay Heaps.
“When he shoots in on goal, it’s usually going in,” Heaps said to the Boston Globe. “He’s got one of the best shots I’ve seen, right or left foot. He was fired up for tonight. Right from the open, his touch was on. His movement was good. His pressure was good. He had a nice night.”
Throughout the roster overhaul, Toronto FC have missed full back Richard Eckersley, who became a key starter midway through last-year’s forgettable season.
While Eckersley has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since early April, his team continue to drop points late in their matches, putting them ninth in the Eastern Conference and having won just one game all season.
“It feels very panicked,” Eckersley said to the Toronto Sun about the defending late in the game. ““It’s happened in the past as well. People blame the defense and say it isn’t good enough, but it’s the whole team.”
On the bright side, Eckersley said that he should be back in first team training in two weeks time, and potentially in the starting lineup come July.
What do you make of these notes? Glad to see Bunbury back? Think Petke and Roxburgh are having a bit of sour grapes? Do you see Pontius missing time with his injury?
Share your thoughts below.