The Revolution were among the first teams to recognize the emerging talent of Honduran players when the Central American country began exporting significant numbers about 12 years ago. The Revolution made a run at former Olimpia stars Jorge Samuel Caballero and Julio Cesar de Leon, plus Maynor Figueroa, and claimed the MLS rights to George Welcome. But they had not profited from the Catracho connection before the arrival of Jerry Bengtson.
Bengtson scored during his Revolution debut against the Red Bulls Sunday night, 24 minutes after entering the game in place of Blake Brettschneider. Bengtson, 25, appears to be an aggressive, mobile opportunist. His goal was impressive for the ease with which it occurred — Bengtson collected a rebound off a Saer Sene shot, avoiding the goalkeeper and finishing into an open net.
Many accomplished Revolution players have struggled to get their first goal in MLS. And a debut score hardly guarantees a long-term attachment to the Revolution, as attested by the careers of Jose Manuel Abundis, Diego Serna, Rob Ukrop, John Wilson, Evans Wise, and Monsef Zerka.Diego Fagundez so far has proven to be the exception, earning a penalty kick in less than two minutes and producing a goal 20 minutes into his first appearance with the Revolution last season.
The Bengtson-Sene combination could be promising, though. Few Revolution pairings have displayed a similar mix of athleticism, experience, and guile.
Before Bengtson’s arrival, Sene scored eight goals in 14 matches, one of the best strike rates in Revolution history. And there has not been enough time to assure that this will be a complementary forward duo. But there were plenty of positive signs in the final 30 minutes of Sunday’s game.
Sene was willing to take on a defensive role, roaming the left wing and tracking back in the second half, while Bengtson went forward. After Bengtson’s goal, both players seemed eager to credit each other, possibly with the thought there will be more opportunities to do so in the future.
However, there is a drawback to the timing of Bengtson’s arrival. After the Revolution-Toronto FC match Saturday, Bengtson is set to join the Honduras national team for the Olympic Games. Honduras will play first-round matches against Morocco (in Glasgow), Spain (Newcastle), and Japan (Coventry) through Aug. 1. Quarterfinals are Aug. 4, semifinals Aug. 7, and the final Aug. 11.
That means Bengtson will miss at least three MLS games and, crucially, three weeks of practice with the Revolution. So, the plan is for Bengtson and Sene to develop as much chemistry as possible before next week, then hope for them to remember the formula when they are reunited next month.
Michael Bradley is expected to be among the new acquisitions for AS Roma when it arrives for a preseason contest against Liverpool at Fenway Park July 25. Bradley’s club, Chievo Verona, was expected to receive a $3.4 million transfer fee, plus two players from Roma.
Bradley has had a successful career in Europe, developing into a goal scorer in The Netherlands, then returning to a defensive role with Borussia Moenchengladbach and Chievo. Bradley, 24, refined his game in adapting to Serie A, not an easy task for a central midfielder.
The move to Roma will be another test for Bradley. But expectations should be reasonable, since the club is not involved in European competition and can concentrate solely on Serie A.
Among Bradley’s strong points is stamina, which should be an advantage under Zdenek Zeman, Roma’s coach. Zeman is known for his demanding preseason conditioning routines as well as an uptempo offensive style.
Last season, Zeman guided Pescara to first place in Serie B, the team scoring 90 goals — 33 more than second-place Torino. Zeman helped develop Ciro Immobile (28 goals) and Lorenzo Insigne (18 goals) as promising forwards and 19-year-old playmaker Marco Verratti, who has likely earned a rich transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.
Verratti had planned to remain at Pescara for another year, easing into Serie A competition. In fact, Juventus backed off on negotiations, agreeing to allow Verratti another season before making a bid. But Paris Saint-Germain increased its offer to about 12 million euros, leaving little chance of Verratti remaining in his hometown.
Organizers had hoped to match Cruzeiro with Milan at Gillette Stadium Aug. 4. In fact, Cruzeiro had signed a contract to play in the exhibition, before pulling out to fulfill a television commitment.
Cruzeiro crushed the Revolution, 3-0, in a friendly two years ago, and has added some spectacular new players, such as defender Leo, who converted an impressive bicycle kick in a 2-1 loss to Internacional last week. This would have been an excellent attraction, since Cruziero has thousands of followers in the area.
The Honduran club Olimpia, replacing Cruzeiro, has a solid following in the Northeast. Milan has played three times in the Boston area since 1970, attracting more than 30,000 spectators per contest. But Milan has not scored a goal in those three matches — losing to Santos (1-0) in Everett in 1970, Chelsea (1-0) in 2005, and Inter (2-0) in '09.