FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Established goalscorers like New England Revolution poacher Jerry Bengtson often judge their production on one solitary statistic.
At the moment, the return on that particular metric – one goal in seven appearances, none in the past six games – does not meet the expected standard for a player of his pedigree.
Revolution coach Jay Heaps said his striker hasn't received a ton of chances to display his potency in front of goal this season, but he noted the Honduran international contributes to the cause in other ways.
“Jerry's playing some good football away from the goal,” Heaps told MLSsoccer.com. “We just need to get him to finish when he has the opportunity to finish. He hasn't gotten as many chances as we'd like and we want to get him more of those, but he is ready.”
In 610 minutes of action this year, the Revolution striker has taken a mere 13 shots, good for 26th in the league and 18 shots off the pace of the San Jose Earthquakes' Chris Wondolowski. Revolution midfielder Kelyn Rowe has just as many chances at goal in three fewer minutes played. Another Revs midfielder, Lee Nguyen, has 16 shots at goal (albeit in 719 minutes).
Heaps recently revamped his tactical approach in a bid to provide Bengtson with more support in the final third and spark a moribund attack. The recent displays in the 4-1-4-1 setup have allowed Bengtson to participate frequently in the buildup play (he prompted chances for Rowe and Saër Sène in Thursday's 0-0 draw at Portland) and work his way into his usual spots inside the penalty area.
Revolution winger Diego Fagundez said the recently installed approach should increase the number of chances afforded to Bengtson in the future.
“I think Jay Heaps has put an attacking team [on the field],” Fagundez said. “We can help out Jerry. We can attack with numbers and get a little creative with Lee and Kelyn in the middle.”
All of those factors – Bengtson's toil as the solitary striker to bolster the defensive shape and create opportunities for his teammates, plus the more ambitious deportment – only matter so much without the end product. For better or worse, Bengtson's success or failure hinges on whether he polishes off the chances he receives.
Bengtson's return over past few games suggests plenty of room for improvement exists. Heaps said it is only a matter of time before Bengtson's production in that department matches the energy he has expended in a bid to find a solution to the issue.
“It's like anything,” Heaps said. “How does a hitter get out of 0-for-8? How does a pitcher [handle it] when he does a lot of the right things, gives up a run and then [his team loses]? There are things we can help him with. There are certain things that are time tested, flat out getting a lucky bounce. Those things usually go to good people and Jerry's a good guy, so we're hoping he gets a good bounce.”