FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Dimitry Imbongo’s equalizing goal in last weekend’s 2-1 victory over D.C. United highlighted many of the traits the burly forward has built his game around.
Sheer power, unrelenting determination and an innate ability to pop up in the right place at the right time were the key ingredients as the Congolese striker forced his way onto the end of Chris Tierney’s cross and bundled the ball over the line from close range.
But it was a different, more refined part of Imbongo’s game which helped set up the game winner eight minutes later. Afforded space to shoot 25 yards from goal, the 23-year-old shaped to unleash a hopeful blast, but instead dished a pass wide to Saer Sene. From there, Sene curled a shot off the woodwork and Diego Fagundez followed up to nod home and steer the Revs to a critical three points.
There was a time when Imbongo would have unleashed that long-distance blast the moment the chance presented itself. But on this occasion a new, more mature striker assessed his options and made the more practical – and in this case, more rewarding – decision.
“I think Dimitry’s taken this challenge well. He’s held the ball well, he’s finished his chances and he’s created, as well,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “I thought the other night he and Saer had a nice relationship going on and with that Diego was able to poach a goal, and that’s a good way to play.”
Imbongo has seized his opportunity to make back-to-back starts with Juan Agudelo still sidelined by a right knee sprain. Agudelo looked strong while performing agility exercises on Wednesday morning and Heaps said the Revs hope to have the dynamic young forward back “soon,” but in the meantime, Imbongo has staked his claim to that starting role.
And it hasn’t just been Imbongo’s attacking contributions which have earned that opportunity. The Revs have spoken at length about a team-wide defensive approach this season, starting with the forwards, and Imbongo’s efforts on that side of the ball have not been overlooked.
“We put a lot of pressure on that center forward and our wing forwards, as well, where we have to get up the field and get them in the right spots,” said Heaps. “So there are times when they’re doing a lot of work for us, but when it all works well together and they share that work, it shows.”