Sporting Kansas City will have to chase an Eastern Conference championship without forward Teal Bunbury, who will miss the remainder of the season after tearing ligaments in his left knee during a draw with the New York Red Bulls.
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The team announced the extent of the injury Monday, one day after Bunbury was hurt while leaping to make a pass to Kei Kamara for Sporting KC’s only goal of the game. Bunbury crashed to the turf and held his knee, but played several more minutes before he was substituted out.
The team initially called the injury a sprain, but coach Peter Vermes said that Bunbury would undergo an MRI exam on Monday. That’s when the extent of the injury was revealed.
Bunbury tore the ACL and damaged the LCL in his knee. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Scott Luallin is scheduled to perform surgery on Friday, and Bunbury is expected to miss six to eight months.
”The injury is extremely unfortunate, but Teal has a great attitude and he will be back stronger than ever,” Vermes said in a statement issued by the team.
Bunbury is a big reason why Sporting KC (14-7-5) leads the East by two points over the Red Bulls with eight games remaining in the regular season.
The former fourth overall draft pick is tied with C.J. Sapong for second on the team with five goals, and he also has one assist in 22 regular season games. He trails only Kamara, the team’s leading scorer, and Graham Zusi for the most shots on goal.
Bunbury led Sporting KC with 11 goals in MLS competition last season.
The knee injury will also rule Bunbury out of potential international duty. He debuted for the U.S. men’s national team in November 2010, and has played several games since, assisting on Zusi’s winning goal in a game against Panama in January.
The U.S. resumes World Cup qualifying at Jamaica on Sept. 7, and is scheduled to play at Sporting KC’s Livestrong Sporting Park against Guatemala on Oct. 16.