The way Jay Heaps tells it, the decision to put striker Teal Bunbury out wide and slot Jerry Bengtson up top against Sporting Kansas City last Saturday was simply a matter trying something new.
Although the absence of right sided midfielder Saer Sene, who was excused for personal reasons, may have made it easier for the Revolution coach to make alterations to the lineup, Heaps said he was looking to make changes regardless.
“We really wanted to get a different look,” Heaps said. “We know the players’ strengths, and we know what they’re capable of, and it was the first time we really got to see Teal with a different look.”
To be fair, the changes didn’t turn the Revolution attack – which had only scored four goals in its first seven games – into an instant juggernaut. In fact, 90-plus minutes came and went with nary a goal for either side.
But it did set the stage for Bunbury, who’d been itching to score his first goal in a Revolution uniform, to tally in the 92nd minute. Three minutes after, Lee Nguyen put it away from the spot to secure the 2-0 victory.
As for Bunbury, Heaps had nothing but praise for his striker-turned-winger, who also put in the work defensively to keep an enterprising Kansas City attack off the board.
“Teal’s an excellent guy in the locker room,” Heaps said. “(He) works extremely hard in all facets of his game, and on both sides of the ball, and those are the kind of players we want to have here.”
Sene’s back, but questions remain
While Bunbury basked in the glow of Saturday’s performance, Sene was nowhere to be seen in the wake of the conference clash.
Prior the game, Revolution president Brian Bilello tweeted that the winger had been excused from the team for “personal reasons.”
Though Heaps didn’t get into specifics about Sene’s absence, he mentioned that the midfielder, who’s had to battle back from a serious ankle injury suffered last fall, needed some time to himself.
“He’s been through a lot in terms of his recovery,” Heaps said. “I think talking to him, and seeing him, and pushing him along through those games was really good. But at the same time, I think we wanted to have a good conversation with him. I think the personal (issue) was just a couple of days for him to clear his head.”
Although the announcement was made about 24 hours prior to the game, Heaps said that decision to excuse Sene from team activities wasn’t an 11th hour decision.
“It wasn’t right before the game,” Heaps said. “It was a conversation that happened way earlier in the week.”
Sene declined an interview request.
Farrell excited to play against Toronto FC
With a revamped Toronto FC on tap for Saturday, you can be the Revolution will have to put together a performance similar to the one they showcased against Sporting Kansas City last weekend.
But while the Revolution are expecting a serious challenge on their hands against the likes of Michael Bradley, Jermain Defoe, Gilberto and Julio Cesar, defender Andrew Farrell is especially looking forward to the chance to play against such notable talents.
“I’m excited to go against world-class players and guys that are going to be in the World Cup,” Farrell said. “So for me, it’s a great opportunity.”