Offseason checklist: Forwards strong

November, 19, 2012
11/19/12
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In the final installment of our four-part positional outlook, we’ll take a look at the forwards: Jerry Bengtson, Blake Brettschneider, Diego Fagundez, Dimitry Imbongo and Saer Sene.

Overview: When the Revolution unveiled Jay Heaps as head coach last autumn, one of the talking points of Heaps’ introductory press conference was his desire to see the team attack. So it came as no surprise that Heaps and general manager Mike Burns set out to find a goalscorer -- post haste.

During an offseason scouting trip in Colombia, they discovered Jose “Pepe” Moreno, a prototypical target striker who, at first blush, looked like the avatar for the new, attack-first Revolution. Weeks later, the club announced that they had signed Moreno, and gave him the prestigious No. 9 jersey.

Then, an unexpected twist developed. Days after the announcement, the Colombian press reported that Moreno was hesitant to join his new club in the U.S. That he wanted to remain with his former club, Once Caldas. Clearly, something was afoot.

While the Revolution front office scrambled to find answers, the club signed 25-year-old French striker Saer Sene following a preseason trial. Sene, who spent the previous season with the Bayern Munich reserve team, came via free transfer, and with little fanfare. With their Plan B on board, the club signed another striker -- Blake Brettschneider -- for good measure.

Eventually, Moreno arrived -- albeit weeks late, with little explanation -- but required additional time to adjust to his new surroundings and heal his injured ankle. That’s all Sene needed to establish himself as the team’s true No. 9.

In the Revolution’s home opener, the French forward scored the Revolution’s first goal of the season, and never looked back. All told, the flashy forward netted a team-high 11 goals, the most since Taylor Twellman’s 16 in 2007. Although a torn ACL suffered in September would sideline him for the final two months of the season, his showing was good enough to be named team MVP.

While Sene set the tone up top, Moreno never fully acclimated to his new surroundings. Injuries, as well as inconsistency, continued to plague him before the club waived goodbye to the enigmatic striker in August.

But, the club wasn’t satisfied with Sene as their only goalscoring threat. In July, they signed Honduran striker Jerry Bengtson to a Designated Player deal.

Bengtson, a four-time goalscoring champion in the Honduran first division, wasted no time making an impression by scoring in his Revolution debut. But in between regular call-ups to Honduras, along with the lineup shuffling due to a rash of injuries, he struggled to find the form that warranted his hefty price tag.

Weeks after Bengtson was brought on board, the club added another French striker -- Dimitry Imbongo -- to shore up the depth up top.

After Sene’s season-ending injury, Homegrown Player Diego Fagundez was called upon to partner with Bengtson and Imbongo. The technically sound teenager scored a remarkable goal against Chicago in the home finale, but was primarily used as a late-game substitute in 2012.

Outlook: If there’s one area where the Revolution appear to be settled the most, it’s up top. Sene’s first season in Foxborough gave Heaps the goalscorer he craved when the topic of the attack came up last autumn. Then there’s Bengtson, who showed glimpses of his potential down the stretch. A full preseason should allow the Honduran striker to rediscover his form. With that in mind, expect Bengtson and Sene to partner up for First Kick 2013. Fagundez will likely resume his role as primary option off the bench, but figures to get more time in the midfield, where he appeared the most comfortable. Meanwhile, the futures of Brettschneider and Imbongo are murky at best, as both struggled to establish their roles on the roster.

Bottom line: While the Revolution may be in the driver’s seat with the forward line, it wouldn’t be surprising to see more forwards added via the college drafts, international scouting trips and/or preseason trials. As Heaps showed during the 2012 season, his squad can never have enough forwards -- and that’ll be especially true if Bengtson receives multiple call-ups from Honduras for World Cup qualifying next year.

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