Bengtson makes his Revs debut count
July, 9, 2012
By Brian O'Connell | ESPNBoston.com
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It was a memorable first impression for the Revolution's newest Designated Player on Sunday, one that won't be soon forgotten by the Revolution faithful.
Twenty-four minutes after stepping onto the Gillette Stadium field for the first time, Jerry Bengtson bagged his first Revolution goal before a crowd of 14,374, who loudly voiced their approval of the recently acquired Honduran striker.
For Bengtson, there was no doubt that he could deliver the goods in his Revolution debut. No doubt whatsoever -- even if he was afforded only a half-hour to do so.
"As a forward, I'm always thinking about scoring goals," Bengtson said through a translator after Sunday's 2-1 win over the Red Bulls. "But the more important thing was the team getting three points and winning the game."
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesIt didn't take long for Jerry Bengtson to make his presence felt in New England.
However, before Bengtson could make his mark on the match, there was one important thing Revolution head coach Jay Heaps wanted Bengtson to do: watch. Watch his teammates move the ball and play it forward.
While Heaps wanted Bengtson to observe his teammates' tendencies, he also wanted to handle Bengtson's introduction with care. No need to rush him into action with the ink yet to dry on his contract.
"You can't just expect a player to come in and start," Heaps said. "He's coming in, getting to know the team. But to throw him out there for more than (30 minutes) would've been unfair to him."
So at halftime, Heaps gave his new striker the heads up: Be ready to go in the second half.
With his squad up a goal in the 60th minute, Heaps summoned Bengtson from the bench. It was time to show the crowd what Bengtson could do.
Out on the field as the lone striker with Saer Sene going out wide, the Bengtson battled for 50-50 balls and stretched the defense with his speed and positioning.
"(This) was the kind of game where we wanted him to fight for headers," Heaps said. "He was all by himself on an island just to kind of open up the defense."
While Bengtson may have found himself isolated up top, it was evident he applied what he observed on the bench out on the pitch.
When Sene tucked inside, Bengtson went wide. And when Sene went out on the right, Bengtson cut inside, anxious to put one into the back of the net.
And that's exactly what he did in the 84th minute. With the Revolution pressing for an insurance goal, Sene played a give-and-go with Shalrie Joseph and barreled through Red Bulls defender Wilman Conde before Ryan Meara stopped his close-range shot. But Bengtson arrived late to shove the rebound into the back of the net.
"It was a beautiful play by my teammate," Bengtson said. "It was very unlucky that he took as a shot and the keeper made a save. But I was focused enough to lead it into the goal. I never lost focus on following the play."
It wasn't the prettiest or most technically sound strike. Some may call it the quintessential "garbage goal." But it's the kind of goal that Heaps expects his newest striker to score.
"I think you're going to see more goals like he scored where it's a poacher's goal," Heaps said. "He's offside on the first part of the buildup, but then he comes back onside and he fights off the goalkeeper and scores. Those are his kind of goals and we need someone who puts those away."
Meanwhile, Bengtson credited his teammates and coaches for helping him transition not only to a new squad, but a new country.
"All of my teammates and the coaching staff have always supported me and helping me out," Bengtson said. "But the more important thing is the fans. The fans have been key for me."
And the fans? If the applause and cheers following Bengtson's 84th minute goal were any indication, the fans are just as happy to have him here.
120708Lee Ngyuen, left, celebrates his first-half goal with A.J. Soares.
• With their sixth win of the season on Sunday, the Revolution surpassed their victory total from all of last season (5).
• The 2-0 win extended the Revolution's unbeaten streak to five (2-0-3).
• The Revolution have scored two goals in four of their past five games.
• The shutout was the Revolution's fourth of the season.
• Lee Nguyen's 24th-minute goal was his first since a 74th-minute strike against Vancouver on May 12.
• Blake Brettschneider led the Revolution with four shots on goal during Sunday's match.
• In his first start of the season, second-string goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth earned his first career MLS shutout.
• Shalrie Joseph, who was listed as "doubtful" with a knee injury on the team's injury report on Friday, came on as a 73rd-minute substitute for Benny Feilhaber.
• Saer Sene, who started on the right side of the midfield last week, returned to his familiar striker's spot up top to start the match.
• Red Bulls forward Thierry Henry was not available for selection on Sunday.
• After suffering a hamstring strain during the first half of the June 23 match at Toronto, right back Kevin Alston returned to action on Sunday and went the full 90.
• When Joseph came on in the 73rd minute, it marked the first time in Revolution history that two of its Designated Players were on the field at the same time.
• Revolution midfielder/forward Diego Fagundez, who scored the 94th-minute equalizer in last week's match against Seattle, came on as an 89th-minute substitute for Kelyn Rowe.