Imbongo makes physical presence felt in first start

Dimitry Imbongo suffered a game-high six fouls against Sporting KC

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Dimitry Imbongo will always remember his first start in Major League Soccer.

Or at least he will until the bruising subsides.

One week after making his Revolution and MLS debuts as a substitute against the Philadelphia Union, Imbongo made his first start with the Revs in Saturday night’s 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City and felt the full brunt of Sporting’s physical approach. Imbongo suffered a game-high six fouls and consistently used his sturdy six-foot frame to tussle with opposing defenders in and around the penalty area.

Although the Revs weren’t able to capitalize on the frequent set pieces Imbongo helped create, head coach Jay Heaps was encouraged by the young striker’s physical style and ability to bring his teammates into the play.

“In training he’s just so hard to get the ball from,” Heaps said. “He’s always got himself between the ball and the man. He’s a good presence. When he holds it like that and keeps the play going or draws a foul, it just helps our group get up the field.”

“With the way I play, the physical side (of the game) is definitely something that I bring,” Imbongo said through a translator. “I just hope I can translate that into goals.”

Imbongo almost opened his MLS account on two occasions against Sporting KC, but struggled to find the requisite accuracy to pierce the net. He directed a first-half effort from inside the box well over the crossbar, while he narrowly missed with a point-blank header shortly after the halftime break. While Heaps was encouraged to see Imbongo work himself into the right positions, he also wants to see that killer instinct in the attacking third.

“Dimitry did a good job holding up and playing physical, but there was a little bit more to be done on his chances,” said Heaps. “He had our two best chances of the game. The first one was difficult, but the second was a header that we want him to get on frame.”

A veteran of the lower divisions in Germany, Imbongo continues to adjust to life in the United States and Major League Soccer after making the move in mid-July. But with his first two appearances under his belt, Imbongo believes the initial transition period has passed and now it’s time to focus on helping the Revs on the field.

“I felt very welcome by the staff and the players (when I arrived),” said Imbongo. “The transition wasn’t that hard. I was impressed with the level of play in the first two games. There was an adjustment period, but now I’m ready to get back to business.”