Nashville SC

Nashville SC trades for former US International and MLS vet Teal Bunbury

Bunbury photo courtesy New England Revolution

If last year’s big veteran addition (that went mostly pooh-poohed at the time, it must be noted) was CJ Sapong, this year’s may be Teal Bunbury for Nashville SC. Mike Jacobs executed a trade with New England Revolution to acquire the 31-year old in the half-day trade window.

From Club release:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Dec. 12, 2021) – Nashville Soccer Club announced today the acquisition of veteran attacker Teal Bunbury from the New England Revolution in exchange for up to $150,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM). New England will receive $75,000 (GAM) and an additional $75,000 if Bunbury meets certain performance-based metrics.

“Teal is a proven winner who has the pedigree and DNA we look for in members of our club.  Not only is he a proven goal threat that is versatile enough to play a number of roles in and around the attack, but he is also an outstanding person who aids a club and community off the field.  We feel very fortunate to have him join us.” – Nashville SC General Manager Mike Jacobs

Bunbury joins Nashville after spending eight seasons in New England with the Revolution while most recently guiding the Revs to the most successful campaign in MLS history. This past season, Bunbury made 29 appearances for the 2021 Supporters Shield winners.

In his time with New England, Bunbury ranked fourth in Revolution history with 45 goals, while registering 21 assists since joining the Revs in 2014. Bunbury ranks seventh in New England’s history in MLS games played (231) and was named the Revolution’s Humanitarian of the Year in 2020 and 2021 for his leadership in organizing community events.

Bunbury earned the Revs Golden Boot award with a team-best eight goals, including three game-winners, in 2020. In that same season, Bunbury led all MLS players with six away goals in the regular season. The striker started all four games in the MLS Cup Playoffs for New England in a berth in the Eastern Conference Final.

Bunbury began his career as a member of Sporting Kansas City (previously known as the Kansas City Wizards) in 2010 after being selected fourth overall in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft by Kansas City as a member of Generation adidas.

Bunbury saw a spike in production in his second year with SKC scoring nine goals and registering three assists in 29 matches. Bunbury’s nine goals were tied for the team lead in 2011. The veteran striker will be reuniting with former teammate CJ Sapong, as the two played side by side while members of Sporting Kansas City from 2011 through 2013.

At the international level, Bunbury competes for the United States and has earned four caps and a goal in his international career.

Nashville SC release

Bunbury is a striker by trade, though he’s spent just as much time on the wing since joining the Revs from Sporting Kansas City, where he played the first four years of his career, 2010-13. He’s been around so long he actually played his rookie season for the KC Wizards. He has 68 MLS goals (including playoffs), with 47 of them coming for the Revs. Aside from a seven-assist campaign during his first year with the Revs, he’s never been a big service guy, with no more than a couple assists per campaign. A Canada/USA dual-nat (born in Hamilton, Ontario), he opted for the USMNT, and notched a single goal in four friendly caps.

Despite the methuselan impression his résumé may give you (he was a 24 under 24 selection over a decade ago!), at 31 he’s poised to become the sixth-oldest player on the team, and is a few weeks younger than Aníbal Godoy. The combination of that experience and not as much age as you would expect it to bring (for a guy who played two years of college soccer, too!) is a nice one for a club that doesn’t have, say, Adam Buksa and Gustavo Bou to keep him off the field at his preferred positions.

He doesn’t come on the cheap, though I imagine he’s in line for a slight reduction in his $375,000 salary from last year -a “less money in exchange for a chance at more than 1300 minutes” deal from his end. Of course, the fact that Nashville SC traded a pittance for him (remember: the $75,000 guaranteed is less than a third of what Jacobs got for each of two international slots sold to Charlotte this morning) means that the overall outlay for acquisition and payment is still relatively low for a player of his track record.

Let us get into what American Soccer Analysis‘s Goals Added says about him. Throughout his career, there have been a few locked-in points of consistency: he’s a below-average dribbler, not a particularly defense-first player for his position, and a below-average passer. However, he’s been good in the fouling department (which includes both fouls committed and those received) most of the time, and aside from a couple blips – including last year – he’s been very good at receiving, which is the closest thing to a god-stat for players whose primary role on a team is goal-scoring. His shooting has been pretty close to average throughout, though more frequently than not slightly below. (In expected goals terms, he’s been a slight overachiever in the course of his career, so I wouldn’t sweat that).

He’s pretty much all-right with his passing and shooting, and while he’s 6-2, he hasn’t historically been a pure box striker, so just a handful (six) of his goals are headed. He’s more likely a depth piece who can provide depth and an offensive threat from one wing, or typical goal-scoring as a striker off the bench (or in spot starts). Unfortunately player-specific MLS highlight reels are difficult to come by, so please accept this single goal from last season to stand in:

Bunbury also has a very notable family. His dad Alex was a Canada international with 15 goals in 66 caps (seventh- and eighth-most in CanMNT history, respectively). His sister Kylie is an actress who currently stars in ABC’s Big Sky (I have not seen it so don’t ask me what it’s about. Skiing?), and his brother Logan is an aspiring musician under the stage name Loki952. Although Dad finished his career with the Wiz, the family settled in Minnesota. Teal played at hockey/soccer powerhouse boarding school Shattuck-St. Mary’s before going on to Akron.

All told, this is the quintessential Mike Jacobs move: picking up a guy with veteran experience and a proven track record. Getting a guy with those characteristics who’s not as old as you might have guessed – with the leadership that’s inherent in having been an on-again off-again captain at his stops – is a bonus. Getting it all at a budget price because you probably have more playing time to offer than the team he’s leaving? That’s the real MoneyBall.

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