FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – In a team filled with skillful players focused on possession, New England Revolution striker Dimitry Imbongo offers a more robust option to lead the line.
Imbongo displayed his ample physical skills during his first start for the Revs in Saturday's 1-0 defeat to Sporting Kansas City. The burly 22-year-old forward positioned his body adroitly to ensure he drew fouls from the opposition and retained possession more often than not.
Revolution head coach Jay Heaps said Imbongo's presence as a target player can help the side by allowing the midfielders to push forward into threatening areas.
“In training, he's just so hard to get the ball from,” Heaps told MLSsoccer.com. “He's always [getting] himself between the ball and the man. He's a good presence. When he holds it like that and keeps the play going or draws a foul, it just helps our group get up the field.”
Imbongo said he understands the importance of those qualities to the team's overall success. He was featured often as the focal point in a front duo during his time in Germany. Although he admitted it took him a little bit to adjust to his new surroundings in an industrious league, he noted that he feels comfortable mixing it up with opposing defenders.
“The physical side is definitely something I bring to the field with the way I play,” Imbongo said through a translator. “I just hope that I can translate it into goals.”
The final touch proved a bit wanting in Imbongo's first start as he squandered a golden chance to draw his side level in the second half. Heaps said he hopes Imbongo can supplement his selfless work with more sharpness in front of goal as he settles into the squad.
“I thought Dimitry did a good job of holding up and playing physical,” Heaps said. “There was a little bit more to be done on his chances. He had two chances, our two best chances of the game. The first one was difficult, but the second one was a header that we want him to get on frame.”
Bengtson poised to return for Montreal's visit
Imbongo could soon find his place under threat as Jerry Bengtson prepares to return from his successful Olympic excursion with Honduras.
Bengtson returned to his native country this week to secure some necessary paperwork, but he is expected to link up with his Revolution teammates prior to Sunday's home match against the Impact (7 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
Heaps said he plans to evaluate Bengtson's fitness before deciding whether he will feature against the expansion side.
“Because he's had some adjustment time here and then he went away, we want to get him in with the guys and get him some reps with both the first team and the second team to see where he is,” Heaps said.
Alston, Soares fighting hamstring knocks
Kevin Alston and A.J. Soares could both join Bengtson in the squad to face the Impact as they attempt to recover from hamstring injuries.
Alston, listed as questionable with left hamstring tightness on Tuesday's injury report, appears more likely to feature after he made the bench against Sporting Kansas City. But Soares, doubtful with a right hamstring strain, could also come into contention if he makes progress this week.
“I think Kevin was a little bit further along [last week],” Heaps said. “That's why he was on the bench. We thought it was best with the quick turnaround from Sunday to Saturday – and with some of the tightness he was feeling – to give him a little bit more time. He could have gone in, but it was really about trying to get him some rest.”