He arrived last July from Motagua as the Revolution's third-ever Designated Player in the hope that he would be the scoring threat that the club needed. Eleven months, 22 games, and just three goals later, Jerry Bengston has been more miss than hit.
He's now been benched twice in a row after scoring just once in his first eight starts of the season. The Revolution's acquisition of Juan Agudelo, Diego Fagundez' current streak of good form, and the return of the dynamic Saer Sene from injury have all played a role in keeping the goal-starved Bengston on the bench.
But Revolution Head Coach Jay Heaps still has faith in Bengston's scoring ability and is expecting the goals to come sooner or later.
"He wants more goals right now," said Heaps after a training session this week. "You can't tell a player 'you need to score goals.' If that was the case, every coach would tell every player to score goals."
"It's an art form. Sometimes you're in a groove, other times it's a little hard. It's a difficult part of the game and Jerry has shown he's really good at it. The more opportunities he gets, the more chances he'll get, and all it takes is one for him to get back into the fold."
Historically, the Revolution haven't had much success with players from Central and South America--especially attackers. Argenis Fernandez, Jose Manuel Abundis, Milton Caraglio, Ricardo Phillips, and Fernando Cardenas are all examples of talented players from south of the border who just didn't pan out for the Revolution.
Jose Cancela, who played with the Revolution from 2003 to 2006 and contributed seven goals and 27 assists, is by far the team's most successful capture in the Western Hemisphere.
With time and a little bit of patience, the Revolution are hoping that Bengston will be another success story. On paper, he's the right man for the job of scoring goals. He averages a goal every two games with the Honduran national team and had excellent scoring records with Vida and Motagua of Honduras' Liga Nacional.
When Bengston first arrived in New England, factors such as a new culture, not enough playing time with new teammates, and continuously being off with the Honduran national team prevented him from scoring on a consistent basis, as he finished the season with just two goals. For some inexplicable reason, the scoring drought has continued and Heaps and the Revolution staff have had to be patient.
Heaps' approach with Bengston is similar to the approach that former Revolution Head Coach Steve Nicol used with Taylor Twellman in the midst of his scoring droughts. Twellman, who retired with 101 regular season goals and one of America's best scoring records, tested Nicol's patience and confidence in 2004 when he opened the season with just one goal through the first 15 games of the season.
But Nicol knew that with the time, and perhaps a lucky bounce of the ball, Twellman would be back to his old scoring self. Heaps appears to be showing a similar confidence in Bengston, though he hasn't started him as consistently as Nicol started Twellman.
In 2004, the Revolution's best forwards were Twellman and Pat Noonan. The back-ups to either of those players were Felix Brilliant, who just didn't mesh well with the team, and Clint Dempsey, who at the time was more dangerous in midfield.
Today, the Revolution has a slew of options at forward, all of which can be dangerous for opposing teams. So while Heaps is confident in Bengston, that doesn't mean he needs to continue giving him starts and wait for the floodgates to re-open. It also appears that Heaps doesn't care who scores, so long as the ball goes in the opposing team's net.
"We want to be scoring more goals. It's not just one player or one position, it's the entire team that needs to score.
"There's no hidden agendas here. We play the guys that we feel are going to help us win games. We look at our lineup as a fluid process. It's not 'these are the starters.' We don't have depth charts. We look at match-ups, we look at chemistry. Guys have to be ready for their chance and take it when they get it."
Despite Bengston's low-scoring form with the Revolution, he has been called up again by the Honduran national team for a slew of World Cup Qualifiers between June 7 and 18 against Costa Rica, Jamaica, and the US. He currently leads Honduras with seven goals so far in qualification.
Heaps believes that Bengston's presence will be missed, even if he has scored just once this season.
"We don't want to lose any players," finished Heaps "Jerry is fortunate enough to be in the mix with the national team and that's a credit to the player he is."
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