Despite his standout youth career in Minnesota, you might not be too familiar with New England Revolution winger Teal Bunbury. A quick primer: His dad, Alex, was a Canadian international who spent Teal’s youngest years playing in England and Portugal. His mom, Kristi, is a Minnesota native. When Alex moved to MLS in 1999 to play for Kansas City, the family moved to Minnesota.
Bunbury played prep soccer at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, then college soccer at powerhouse Akron, where he won the Hermann Trophy as a sophomore, the only Minnesotan to win the award given annually to the top college player. He’s on his sixth MLS season. He’s played for — and scored for — the U.S. men’s national team, one of only a handful of Minnesotans to represent the United States in soccer.
In other words, Bunbury is soccer’s Lindsay Whalen, the Tyus Jones of the corner kick — the local product made good.
Though he was born in Canada and grew up partly in Europe, his credentials as “one of us” are unimpeachable. He was home in May, to surprise his mom for Mother’s Day.
“I love coming back; I’m a Midwest kid,” he said. “Living out in Boston’s a little bit different; it’s more fast-paced, and the people maybe aren’t as caring. I’m more at home in the Midwest. Maybe that’s just because it’s where I was brought up.”
After four seasons in Kansas City, Bunbury moved to New England at the beginning of last year. The Revs shifted him out wide, to a position that he calls “target winger,” and he’s flourished there. “The change in my position is opening a new door for me,” he said. “I’m always trying to perfect my craft, and that’s being more of a two-way player defensively, and trying to make runs in behind and be strong offensively as well.”
While Bunbury feels like he’s playing as well as he ever has, as a professional, he isn’t ready to say that he’s peaked. And his desire for improvement includes getting back to the national team. He hasn’t played for the U.S. since 2012, but with the team always searching for wide players, he’s hopeful that he can get back into the picture.
“I don’t think it’s about getting all these stats and things like that,” he said. “I feel like if [U.S. coach] Jürgen [Klinsmann] can just see my consistency and see my work rate, and know that I’m a player that’s going to give it his all defensively and offensively, then I feel like I’ll deserve a look and a second chance.”
At 25, he’s still getting better, though he’ll only concede, “I still have a couple of good years left in me.”
Minnesotan overpoliteness aside, Bunbury is enjoying his rise in New England. Take note. You’ll want to claim him as one of our own.