FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It only took 12 minutes for Jerry Bengtson to get back on the World Cup track.
After not playing in three straight games for the New England Revolution, the 27-year-old forward earned playing time with a solid week of training, then came off the bench against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday and used those 12 minutes to score a stoppage-time goal, which should lead to even more playing time as the Revolution search for consistent offense.
“You get your opportunity in the game by how you train,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps told media on Tuesday. “What you do in the game is what expands your role.”
The late strike ended the Designated Player's year-long goal drought in league action (he had not scored since March 9, 2013), and now Bengtson will look to build off of that performance. He hopes, of course, to earn a spot on the World Cup roster of Honduras national team coach Luis Fernando Suárez, a spot that may have been jeopardized by Bengtson's long absence from the New England lineup.
“It was really tough [not to play],” Bengston told MLSsoccer.com via translator. “I know that if I don’t get those minutes, it’s tough for the call-up for the World Cup. Things are going to get better.”
The Honduras regular has scored 19 goals in 41 appearances for his country, a prolific run that contrasts drastically with his long-running struggles in a Revs uniform; he now has four goals in 32 MLS regular-season appearances. After coming on as a substitute in the first two games of 2014, Bengtson was not used in the third game and was not even part of the 18-man game-day roster the next two weeks.
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“[He was] lacking confidence, lacking that killer instinct when he gets on the field,” said Heaps. “He performed so well in training that we really wanted to get him minutes if the game called for it, and he went in and did a great job.”
Heaps lauded Bengtson’s goal as a positive step forward and believes it could expand his role in upcoming matches. Bengtson sees it as a momentum boost that will keep him involved on New England's journey forward – with a personal detour through Brazil this summer.
“That goal builds a lot of confidence,” he said. “I’ve got to work hard to be on the final roster [for Honduras]. Hopefully everything goes well. I’m positive that I’m going to get more minutes and the call-up for the World Cup.”