FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – One player who’s been conspicuously absent from the Revolution’s recent goal bonanza is the very same player who many thought would be at the forefront of the offensive charge this year.
Forward Jerry Bengtson, who signed a designated player deal with the club last July, hasn’t scored in his last 10 league matches. Through 11 games in 2013, he only has one goal - a statistic that the striker admitted after Sunday’s game that he was well aware of.
“Yes, it’s definitely bothering me,” Bengtson said through a translator. ”But it’s just something that’s personal; I just have to keep working hard for it.”
Since scoring the game-winner in a 1-0 season-opening win at Chicago, the Honduran striker’s struggles aren’t only limited to finding the back of the net. In his last four games, he’s failed to fire a shot on frame at all. Worse, it appears he’s lost his starting spot up top, with his last appearance in the lineup coming on May 8.
“Everytime I step on the field, I just try to perform in the role that the coaching staff asks me to do,” Bengtson said. “I feel like I’m putting the effort in and I hope the rest of the stuff will come on its own.”
Teammate Juan Toja sympathizes with Bengtson’s predicament. Toja believes that even the best players encounter struggles at some point in their careers, and that Bengtson’s situation will eventually resolve itself.
“In soccer, these things happen,” Toja said. “I think he’s been working hard, but the goal hasn’t come. I’m sure the goal will come and it’s going to change. It’s hard for a forward when you don’t score for 4-5 games, but I think he’s going to score soon and he’s just going to (score a lot of goals).”
Toja also alluded to the idea that the transition to playing in the United States for Latin American players “isn’t easy.” Although Toja, a native of Colombia, can’t say for sure that the adjustment to a new league and new culture is affecting Bengtson’s play, he didn’t rule it out as a possibility.
“I don’t know if it’s exactly that,” Toja said. “But it happens. It’s happened in my career, having trouble learning a new country and language, and sometimes it’s hard to get involved. Coaches have different rules, there’s a different way of playing, and it’s a different way of living.”
Though Bengtson didn’t say whether the transition from Honduras to the U.S. has affected his play, he’s optimistic that his recent call-up to the Honduras National Team for a pair of World Cup Qualifiers on Friday (at Costa Rica) and Tuesday (vs. Jamaica) will help him reclaim some of the confidence he’s lost in New England.
In his last 10 caps with the Catrachos, he’s scored seven goals, his most recent coming in a 2-2 draw against Mexico in a Mar. 22 World Cup Qualifier.
“That’s what I’m hoping to accomplish with the (Honduras) National Team,” Bengtson said. ”Get a couple of goals there, and then get that confidence back coming here.”
Meanwhile, Bengtson doesn’t seem concerned that his playing time has dwindled over the past month, especially in light of the Revolution’s recent form.
“As long I’m following what the coaches want, that’s all I’m trying to do,” Bengtson said. “Hopefully, I’ll score (with Honduras) and get more confidence and bring it back to New England.”