FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Jay Heaps was conflicted as he watched New England Revolution striker Jerry Bengtson score the game-winning goal on Wednesday afternoon, lifting Honduras to a 2-1 win over the United States as both countries kicked off the final round of World Cup Qualifying.
Bengtson was quickest to react when teammate Boniek Garcia slid a pass across the box, poking the ball into an empty net and showing the predatory instincts the Revs hope to see upon his return to Foxborough.
“It’s a great goal from Jerry and you’re very happy because he’s your teammate and we’re in the trenches with him,” said Heaps. “But it’s tough to see the U.S. go and have a performance and a result like that.”
Heaps’ concern wasn’t with the United States in the 85th minute, however, as he watched Bengtson get stretchered off the field – and replaced by a substitute – following an apparent injury. Luckily his apprehension quickly turned to relief as Bengtson confirmed he was fine during a postgame conversation with the Revs’ staff.
“There was a good moment of pause there because the feed I saw didn’t show what happened on the injury,” Heaps said. “When you see a guy down, you don’t know. But we spoke with him last night and everyone felt good.”
Bengtson is scheduled to arrive in New England on Thursday night and join the Revolution for his first preseason training session on Friday morning. Fitness shouldn’t be an issue after spending the past three weeks with Honduras, so Bengtson can focus solely on settling back into his club side.
“I think now, from his standpoint, he has to compartmentalize,” said Heaps. “He had a lot of work to do with the national team, he did that work, and now he joins us and we want to get him up to speed with our guys. It shows that Jerry has a knack for the goal and we have to get him the chances to score like his team in Honduras does.”
Nguyen likely to be cleared for participation in the Desert Diamond Cup
Lee Nguyen was held out of the Revolution’s first two preseason matches in Casa Grande as a precaution following shoulder surgery last September. Although he’s been a full participant in training sessions, Nguyen has yet to be cleared for full contact and his teammates have been instructed to be cautious around the midfielder.
“Guys know where Lee is and they can’t bump him too much; if they’re grabbing him, they try to stop,” said Heaps. “We’ve been monitoring that, but he’s [just about] ready to go.”
Heaps estimated Nguyen is currently “90 percent full” in training and he believes last year’s team MVP will be available to play in the upcoming Desert Diamond Cup in Tucson.
Sene on track for March/April return from ACL surgery
The original timetable for Saer Sene’s recovery from ACL surgery called for a return in March or April and the French striker appears to be on course with that schedule. Sene has worked tirelessly during rehab and currently spends training sessions running and working on strength exercises with the athletic training staff.
Although Sene will almost certainly miss the beginning of the season, the Revs are preaching patience in his recovery in the hopes he’ll be available for the majority of the campaign.
“With a guy like Saer, you’re glad he has a good personality,” said Heaps. “We just have to make sure we’re patient and that his progress is being handled the right way.”