FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – There were no guarantees for Jerry Bengtson when he took the field in San Pedro Sula last Tuesday.
Honduras needed a victory over Canada to keep their hopes of a second consecutive World Cup berth alive. Nothing less would do. Those stakes turned the match into a complicated and pressure-filled situation, Bengtson said.
“It's a World Cup qualifier and everything is on the table,” Bengtson told MLSsoccer.com through a translator after the Revolution's 1-0 victory over Chicago on Saturday night. “It's hard. We fought to the end and it got complicated, but we ended up getting into the Hexagonal and we were scoring goals.”
They scored eight of them on a day when two or three would have sufficed. Bengtson contributed three of them and supplied two assists in the 8-1 victory that sent Honduras through to the Hexagonal and prompted Canada to reassess how they approach their national team program.
Bengtson said the Hondurans' bright start – including the two goals he scored inside the first 17 minutes – set them on the path required to notch the desired victory.
“The first goal gave us a lot of confidence,” he said. “We played a great game against Canada, which is always a hard national team to play against. We did the right things at the right time to get the points.”
That pattern must hold when the final round starts next year. Honduras must finish no worse than fourth, and no lower than third to qualify automatically, in a group that includes Mexico, the United States, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Panama in order to keep their World Cup dreams alive.
Bengtson said that he and his teammates – including fellow MLS stars like Víctor Bernárdez (San Jose), Marvin Chávez (San Jose), Roger Espinoza (Sporting Kansas City), Boniek García (Houston) and Mario Martínez (Seattle) – must apply themselves earnestly in order to compete in the Hexagonal.
“It's pretty hard going into the Hexagonal,” Bengtson said. “It's going to be tough. We're going to do our best and work hard to get the chance to be in the World Cup.”