Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Revs' depth up front pays dividends
By Brian O'Connell, Special to ESPNBoston.com
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Like many MLS clubs, the Revolution lean heavily on their talent up top to spearhead their offense. And like many clubs, they’ve paid a pretty penny to secure players who have a penchant to put one through at a moment’s notice.
However, unlike many other clubs, the Revolution aren’t just getting production from one or two high-priced strikers. Rather, they’re getting goals from nearly all of their forwards, including the budget-friendly ones that, not long ago, resided inside the lower rungs of the depth chart.
For proof of that, consider this: Four of the Revolution’s last five goals in league play have come from a quartet of different forwards, with the last two steering the club to a 2-0 win over the Earthquakes on Saturday.
“The competition there is great,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps said. “With Juan Agudelo being sidelined for a little bit, (we have) guys like Chad (Barrett) and guys like (Dimitry) Imbongo fighting for a spot. It’s great. Jerry Bengtson as well. Those guys have stepped up to the plate and they’ve done a nice job.”
On June 16 in Vancouver, the dynamic and dangerous Agudelo penciled his name onto the scoresheet inside of 10 minutes, even though the Revolution went on to suffer a 4-3 loss to the Whitecaps. Last week, the barely-used Barrett scored an 88th-minute equalizer to help the Revolution salvage a 1-1 draw against Chivas USA.
But on Saturday, the Revolution’s strike force ensured that maximum points were collected against an ambitious San Jose side.
In the 13th minute, Saer Sene, who’s coming back from ACL surgery last season, blasted a shot from well outside the area that soared past the dive of Jon Busch to put the hosts in command.
“I am happy to score, but the first thing is that we win the game,” Sene said. “I am a striker, (and am called upon to) score goals. That’s what everybody knows and I am very happy to score and the team wins.”
The win was far from guaranteed in the latter stages, with Sene’s goal standing as the only thing between a well-deserved win and a disappointing draw to a relentless Earthquakes team.
However, in the 78th minute, another Revolution striker found the back of the net. Imbongo, an afterthought among the goalscoring corps not long ago, slid into a Lee Nguyen cross to send his side on its way to its first win in more than a month.
“I’m happy to score and I’m happy that my friend Saer Sene scored too,” Imbongo said. “I’m happy that the coach gave me the chance to prove to everybody that I can score.”
There’s no question that players such as Agudelo, who’s currently out with a right knee sprain, and Sene have proven their scoring prowess in the past. Their success is, by no means, surprising. But to see Imbongo and Barrett make meaningful contributions certainly speaks to just how deep the Revolution are up top.
“We have a good competition going on there every week, (so) training does matter,” Heaps said. “I’ve said that from the beginning, that I want to see these guys earn time, and I think they’ve done that.”