FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A famous philosopher once said, “Opportunity does not knock, then knock again, then leave a note saying, ‘Sorry I missed you.’”
Actually, I lied. It wasn’t a famous philosopher. It was Fez, the quirky but loveable character played by Wilmer Valderrama on the long-running TV series That ‘70s Show. But it doesn’t make the sentiment any less true.
It’s a particularly appropriate axiom for the New England Revolution’s current crop of healthy and available forwards, including Diego Fagundez, Matt Horth and Dimitry Imbongo. With Saer Sene not expected to be full strength until March or April following ACL surgery and Jerry Bengtson slated to join camp later this week after an extended stint with the Honduras National Team, the time is now for the rest of the forwards to shine.
“There’s a lot of competition at forward and guys have to step up,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “For Dimitry, Matt Horth, Diego – guys that will play on the front line – if there’s an opportunity, it’s right now. They have to recognize that and see it. We’ve talked to them about it and hopefully they feel the need to compete every day.”
Even more competition at the forward position could be arriving soon. General Manager Michael Burns recently revealed that the Revs are still in discussions with Re-Entry Process Stage 2 selection Chad Barrett and are optimistic a deal can be reached with the veteran striker, while Burns added that the club is likely to use its lone open international spot on a forward, as well.
In the meantime, Imbongo will be one of those aiming to impress as he looks to build upon the nine appearances (five starts) he made with New England after signing in July of last season. The 22-year-old former 1860 Munich reserve is a powerful presence and has shown a propensity for the physical side of the game, but Heaps is looking for more from Imbongo, who could play a critical role early in the season.
“He has to put the work in defensively. I think that’s an area where Dimitry has to get better, and I think he’s starting to do that a little bit more,” Heaps said. “He has to be a little bit more ruthless on his finishes. When he gets a chance to score, he has to take that chance. And holdup play; can he find little areas on the field to hold the ball, present himself, keep possession and then make runs in behind?
“The forward position is never easy and every forward has a different way of playing it. Dimitry likes to touch the ball, he likes to roll the ball underneath his foot and he likes to do creative things. However, he has to also do those other things that we need, which are hold the ball, make good runs and do the work defensively.”