FRISCO, Texas — The silent treatment continues from Jeff Cunningham.
By all accounts, the veteran striker hasn’t done an interview since June 3. He has since turned down a number of requests and told one member of the Dallas media that he wouldn’t be talking again until he became MLS’ all-time goals leader. He currently has 127 goals, five behind leader Jaime Moreno of D.C. United.
But perhaps for Cunningham, silence is a form of preparation, of training.
“I think all players can be complicated,” FCD coach Schellas Hyndman said on Friday. “I think when players are not at their best, they’re not going to want to talk about it. Now that he’s starting to come into his own, it may be something that he’ll loosen up with.”
Cunningham came into his own again in a big way in Sunday’s 3-1 win over Philadelphia. He came off the bench to score twice in the second half, including the game-winner in the 75th minute, and was named MLS Player of the Week.
After the match, most in the press box at Pizza Hut Park thought Cunningham might talk about his brace. However, the seasoned striker stuck with his current form, electing not to talk. For Hyndman, it's not a concern.
“I think he’s just trying to take a safe approach right now. [He says], 'I’m going to let my game do the talking for me,'” the FCD gaffer said. “Unless there’s a league mandate that says you have to talk to the media, I really try not to get too involved with that.”
When asked for their thoughts on Cunningham’s continued silence, most of his teammates weren’t aware he wasn’t talking and also weren’t too concerned with it.
“I guess that’s his choice,” said midfielder Atiba Harris, who was Cunningham’s teammate once before at Real Salt Lake and is still a very close friend. “I don’t know exactly why he does it or not.”
Fellow midfielder Brek Shea admits he was unaware that Cunningham wasn’t doing any interviews but chalked that up to part of his routine.
“Jeff’s Jeff, that’s why he has so many goals,” Shea said. “Obviously, whatever he’s done has worked so far and I respect it.”
For many of his teammates, the silent treatment off the field is a moot point. All that matters is Cunningham’s contribution to the team’s performance on the field.
“He’s not paid to talk to the media—he’s paid to score goals,” said defender Heath Pearce. “If [not talking to the media is] what he chooses to do, we all stand behind him not only in his quest to set the record but to help us in getting wins.”