Balanced attack a consistent theme for the Revolution
FOXBOROUGH — Jerry Bengtson has been scoring goals, which is what the Revolution hoped he would be doing when he joined the team last month. Problem is, the goals Bengtson converted last week were while playing for Honduras in the Olympic Games.
Bengtson scored both of the Catrachos’ goals in a 2-2 tie with Morocco in their opener in Glasgow Thursday. And when the Revolution visit the Philadelphia Union Sunday night, Bengtson will be recovering from Honduras’s match against Spain, the result likely determining when he will be returning to Major League Soccer.
“That’s exactly what we need right now, a couple goals,” said Revolution coach Jay Heaps. “We knew [Bengtson’s Olympic prospect] going in and we didn’t want to limit the player. It’s the club’s choice, because he’s an overage player, but I think you can’t limit anyone. He had dreams of playing in the Olympics and it’s great for him.”
Since Bengtson’s 84th-minute score in a 2-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls July 8, the Revolution have been limited to one goal in the last 276 minutes of play. Leading scorer Saer Sene (eight goals) has a four-game scoreless streak and lost his starting role for a 0-0 tie at Kansas City last week. The only Revolution goal in the last three games was a Lee Nguyen long-distance strike in a 2-1 defeat at Montreal.
“We need more consistency,” Heaps said. “We just haven’t had a run of games where we feel we have the same lineup. The way the schedule was set up, we haven’t been able to get into a rhythm. We’ve had some injuries, and there just haven’t been two or three games where we can say that’s the same lineup and we’re consistent with it.
“I think once we get Jerry back, once we get our system — how we want to play — we’ll have real consistency in our attack. We’ve got some good offensive players in Lee Nguyen, Benny [Feilhaber], Saer, and Ryan Guy, Blake Brettschneider and Dimitry Imbongo.”
Imbongo, 22, arrived from 1860 Munich’s reserve team, taking a career path to the Revolution similar to that of all-time leading scorer Taylor Twellman and Sene.
“It was a surprise he was available and getting him here was a surprise,” Heaps said of Sene. “Now it’s a matter of having him do on the big field what he does in training. He’s definitely a player teams are marking. They have to watch him closely because if you give him a little bit he makes you pay.
“[Imbongo] does some good stuff. He holds it up, he has really good feet for a big man. He’s still adjusting to his teammates and that takes a little time.”
The Revolution’s roster includes varied attacking options, including midfielders Fernando Cardenas and Kelyn Rowe, plus forward Jose “Pepe” Moreno, their highest-profile offseason acquisition.
But after producing nine multigoal results in the first 17 matches of the season, the Revolution’s offense has stagnated.
“I think just continuing to play as a team,” defender A.J. Soares said of the solution to the lack of scoring. “Having the entire team attack and the entire team defend, the philosophy of every player contributing on both sides of the ball, and support the guys on top. At times we’ve relied on one or two guys, and that’s tough to do.”
The Revolution have fared well against the Eastern Conference’s top teams recently, defeating the first-place Red Bulls and tying Sporting KC, but falling to lower-placed teams Montreal and Toronto.
“It was important to get back to the basics and show that we had that resolve and we could go into the toughest stadiums in the country and follow the game plan and execute it,” Heaps said of the Revolution’s performance in Kansas City.
“That’s the key, pressure and attack. We’ve done it a couple times this year. Balance is the key. I think the best teams have balance. They draw a line in the sand defensively and punish you when they get the ball. I think we’ve made a lot of progress and done a lot of that stuff, just not consistent enough.”
Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at email@example.com.