FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The international break could not come soon enough for Jerry Bengtson.
Bengtson has not featured for New England since he started and played 72 minutes in the 2-1 defeat at Colorado on July 17. He has drifted in and out of the matchday squad since then as a result of his protracted drought in front of goal (one goal in 13 appearances this season, collected in the season opener at Chicago on March 9) and the considerable options at Revolution coach Jay Heaps' disposal.
This interlude with Honduras – a side that has always catered to his strengths in the final third – supplies him with an opportunity to bolster his confidence with good displays against Mexico (Sept. 6 in Mexico City) and Panama (Sept. 10 in San Pedro Sula), according to Heaps.
“I think it's really good for him,” Heaps told MLSsoccer.com before Bengtson left to link up with his international teammates. “He's in a tight competition here. He probably hasn't gotten the game minutes he would want. But, at the same time, we're asking a lot of the guys who are playing and competing for spots.”
Bengtson will step into a situation where Honduras – still fighting for a place in next summer's World Cup – will ask plenty of him on and off the field. He found himself exiled from the Honduran squad after a post-match incident in the wake of the 2-0 victory over Jamaica on June 12, but he made amends with Honduras coach Luis Fernando Suárez regarding his actions on that night in time to return to the squad for this critical pair of qualifiers.
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Heaps said Bengtson's overtures to return to the fold show his desire to help his country secure a second World Cup berth in succession. And the pursuit of that objective could aid all parties involved – including the Revolution – as the next few months unfold.
“For him, going to the national team will be a good thing for him,” Heaps said. “He's been invited back. He needs to go back there, be a part of it and win a spot in that group as well. I think the competition for him is always good. We hope he does well.”