2022 just keeps kicking Sporting Kansas City while they are down. As if falling back to last place in the West after a 1-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls on Sunday night wasn’t bad enough, they’ve lost a promising prospect in recent weeks.
The Blue Testament confirmed with Peter Vermes after the RBNY game that Mataeo Bunbury has left the SKC Academy. He wanted a first team contract and they didn’t think he was ready.
I confirmed with Peter Vermes after the game that Mataeo Bunbury wanted a first team contract and they thought he wasn't ready so he's separating from their academy.— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) July 4, 2022
Shame to lose such a talented and promising kid. #SportingKC
Mataeo just turned 17-years-old last month. At the time of his leaving, he was first on Sporting KC II in scoring with four goals across 10 appearances including six starts (633 minutes). Rauf Salifu, the team’s starting striker, scored four goals on Saturday night and took the team lead with six on the season.
Bunbury primarily lined up on the right wing and the effort to market him to other teams has begun with a highlight package put out last month. This is a common move from players who are available to be signed.
The highlights chosen are interesting, not showing most of his goals and showing multiple errors. Also the majority of them are on the Spiideo camera that MLS NEXT Pro uses and it’s tough to even pick out his #47 (any shots where it’s visible is a closer, multi-camera setup and likely the game of the week).
On a related note, I confirmed with SKC II that the league intends to keep using this camera setup for the remainder of the 2022 season and match replays will continue to not be available.
The loss of Bunbury definitely hurts. He had “winger of the future" vibes and had been an integral part of SKC II this year. If he signs elsewhere, SKC would presumably be entitled to training compensation, but they’ll likely miss out on any large transfer fee that may have one day come for him or simply missed out on his potential to help the first team down the road.
This isn’t the first time Sporting KC have lost a player for nothing, either become of them walking away on a free transfer (Erik Palmer-Brown) or moving on from guys relatively early for one reason or another.
Update: Alex Bunbury, Mataeo's father, released a statement via a series of Tweets.
Mataeo is appreciative for the opportunity SKC has given him and is thankful for the support and professionalism afforded to him by his coaches, staff and supporters!— Alex Bunbury (@AlexanderBunbu1) July 4, 2022
I am texting to set the record straight. Mataeo had offers to play in Europe but chose to stay with SKC. I have European status so it is not an issue for Mataeo to play in Europe before 18.— Alex Bunbury (@AlexanderBunbu1) July 4, 2022
I noticed some are making comments that are not factual. So I had to clear the air. Mataeo has no animosity towards anyone at SKC and is thankful for his time there. He chose a professional contract over an academy agreement.— Alex Bunbury (@AlexanderBunbu1) July 4, 2022