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Can Teal Bunbury Fill an Important Role for U.S. Soccer?

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US forward Teal Bunbury is fighting for a coveted forward position on the first team, which has been a position that every US boss has struggled mightily to fill. Last night Jurgen Klinsmann attempted to solve this team weakness by starting Bunbury up top and using him in a lone forward position rather than starting a partnering relationship. After the game, Bunbury addressed his comfort level playing on his own compared to playing alongside a strike partner. 

“I feel like the chemistry is the biggest thing. If you are able to have chemistry within the team, and a lot of us have only been playing together for a couple of weeks, then it helps. Once that chemistry gets going then it’s easier to combine regardless if it's one forward, two forwards, or one underneath,” said MLS forward Teal Bunbury.

On Saturday, Bunbury certainly had chemistry with his teammates, especially with attacking midfielder Benny Feilhaber.

The Sporting KC striker did an excellent job as the target man. Bunbury checked back for the ball and often held it well under heavy pressure, which allowed his midfield to join him in the attack.

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At times, however, Bunbury came a bit too deep into the midfield when searching for the ball. While he was able to keep possession and combine with the midfield often, when he pushed up field there was no one near the opponent's box to receive that next pass.
When closer to goal, Bunbury and Feilhaber (who was playing just underneath him) worked well together to create scoring opportunities. If that option was closed down, Bunbury usually strategically combined with the flanks to create scoring opportunities.

All that chemistry and combination play is well and good, but as a striker, you also need to put the ball in the back of the net. While the former Akron star generated his own chances, he did not take these chances well. 

As my USFutblog colleague, Matthew Spitz poignantly wrote, Bunbury, “resembled Jozy Altidore at times with his lack of a scoring touch.” 

The USA has two great target men in Altidore and now Bunbury, but what the Red White and Blue lack are genuine goal-scorers. If Bunbury can add that to his repertoire on the international level, then he might just be the striker that the US so desperately needs on the road to Brazil 2014.

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