Future bright for Bunbury

STEVEN SANDOR, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:31 AM ET

Even though he's the most talked-about Canadian prospect in the NCAA, Teal Bunbury doesn't want to look too far into the future.

Bunbury, born in Hamilton, had 15 goals in 18 regular-season games for the University of Akron Zips, who enjoyed a perfect 18-0 season. Bunbury, a sophomore, is already the source of a lot of speculation. Will he make himself eligible for the MLS SuperDraft? Or does he want to emulate his dad and make a name for himself in Europe?

"Right now (the decision) is not what I am focused on," said Bunbury, as his team prepares for the Mid-American Conference tournament. "I'm focused on winning a national championship. It's in the back of my mind. It's a matter of what happens this year. I've got to see if I'm ready."

Of course, to Canadian soccer fans, the Bunbury name is familiar. His dad, Alex, is one of the greatest forwards to ever represent Canada. He still holds the scoring record for Portuguese side C.S. Maritimo, with 59 career markers. He is in the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame. His son is already following in dad's footsteps. He has represented Canada at the U-20 level -- and even though he now calls Minnesota home, he said he likely won't abandon the Canadian program.

"My dad doesn't say much about it, but I am pretty confident that I am staying with the Canadian team," Teal said.

But dad did pass on some tough love as his son grew up, demanding that his son put more into the game.

"He was always pressuring me to be the best player I could be. It's paid off. We have a great relationship. We talk on the phone every day."

There's no doubt that Bunbury donning a TFC uniform would be a dream for many local soccer fans; but, if Bunbury did make himself eligible, remember that TFC doesn't have a first-round pick in '10. Bunbury only would fall to a later round if he made it clear that he wanted to test Europe.

If Bunbury were to leave after his sophomore season, he would be the second Akron player to do it in two years.

Last year, Akron star Steve Zakuani signed a Generation Adidas contract -- which means that the player doesn't count against an MLS senior roster -- and, after his sophomore year, declared for the draft. Zakuani went No. 1 to the Seattle Sounders, where he has made a major impact.

"I don't want to hold any player back," Zips coach Caleb Porter said. "I want players to take advantage of their opportunities. But the opportunities only come if the team does well. We have a team-first mentality."

Porter added that Bunbury has the kind of qualities that you can't teach.

"We knew when we recruited Teal that he had some tools you don't see very often in players," Porter said. "He is a physical specimen and he's technically sound. But we also knew he had some things to learn."

And he's learning those lessons. He's improving with his back to goal. He's more clinical with his finishing and he's more composed with the ball at his feet.

And, if he leads the Zips to their first national title, the Bunbury buzz will only grow.


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