FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A strong week of training earned Jerry Bengtson a substitute appearance in last weekend’s meeting with the Houston Dynamo. Now the Honduran striker’s stoppage-time goal to cap the New England Revolution’s 2-0 win may have earned him an increased role moving forward.
Bengtson – who hadn’t been part of the 18-man game day roster the previous two weekends – came off the bench in 78th minute on Saturday and helped the Revs clinch a critical three points in the late stages. After beating onrushing Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall to a long pass from A.J. Soares, Bengtson pushed toward goal and finished calmly inside the near post.
The sequence showed the type of predatory instincts which Bengtson has so often showcased with the Honduras National Team, but has struggled to find consistently with the Revolution.
“Jerry opened up the game,” said assistant coach Tom Soehn, who led the Revs from the bench with head coach Jay Heaps serving a one-game suspension. “We were looking to expose them for pace a little bit, and we knew that they were going to press, so there were going to be opportunities in behind. He did a good job when he came in and obviously that second goal really helped.”
The decision to use both Bengtson and Scott Caldwell (who entered in the 71st minute) in substitute roles was discussed throughout the week, according to Heaps. Both players had been sharp in training, and when Kevin Alston’s goal gave the Revs a lead in the 68th minute, it was the appropriate situation for the duo to come on and influence the match.
Bengtson performed his role to perfection, exposing Houston’s backline as the visitors pushed numbers forward in search of a late equalizer. It was a performance which may well have earned Bengtson more significant playing time in the coming weeks.
“I think you get your opportunity in the game by how you train, and then what you did within the game is what expands your role,” said Heaps. “For me, that’s the most important thing: when the lights are on, how you play.”
Saturday’s goal was not only a confidence-builder for World Cup hopeful Bengtson – who hadn’t scored with the Revolution since the 2013 season opener – but also the Revs, who were goal-hungry after being shut out in four of their first five matches.
The question now is how Bengtson will follow up his influential substitute performance. Should he find anything close to resembling his goal-scoring form for Honduras, it would provide the Revs an immeasurable boost.
“We need goals and Jerry found one,” said Heaps. “I think that’s an important step forward.”