The New England Revolution announced today that they have signed Honduran international forward Jerry Bengston as a designated player. Bengston has been a consistent “goal every other game” player since making his debut in the Liga Nacional de Fútbol Profesional de Honduras as a 17 year old in 2007. He has also been capped 22 times by the Honduran National Team and has produced 8 goals for his country. Bengston will also be one of the over-age players representing Honduras at the London Olympics. So, why am I not more excited?
Well, it’s nothing against Mr. Bengston. Maybe he will prove to be a top goal scorer in MLS, and if he does, great. What I have a problem with is that the Revolution do not need more offense- especially when it has a Designated Player-sized contract attached to it! The seventh place Revolution have scored more goals in fewer matches than fourth place Chicago and more goals in fewer matches than the Vancouver Whitecaps, who are in third place in the Western Conference. New England also has a top ten scorer in Saer Sene. The need at Gillette Stadium is defense! How many times in the last 2-3 seasons have the Revolution turned wins into draws or draws into losses because they could not close out teams defensively? Exactly.
I have no problem with Jay Heap’s attacking philosophy as a coach- I’m all for it, actually. However, in order to give the midfielders and forwards the freedom to do that they must have the confidence that when the opposition counter-attacks, the back line can win the ball back and get it forward for the next attack. The signing of Bengston makes me think that Heaps- a former Duke basketball player- may be moving towards a style of play reminiscent of the Loyola Marymount teams of Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble which once averaged 120+ points per game. Offensively explosive teams like that might be exciting to watch, but in the end they rarely win anything.