One of the more popular questions after someone produces a standout performance is often times, "well, what will he do for an encore?". After a double in his first match against Morocco, and then scoring the only goal in the match that eliminated Spain, fans across the soccer universe were wondering what the newly-minted Revolution DP striker was going to do against Japan, in a match that Honduras needed a result in to go through.
Unfortunately, on this night, the result was a little anti-climactic. Both Japan and Honduras played in a typically cautious fashion, with the Japanese knowing they were already through, and Honduras needing only a draw and a favorable result in the Spain-Morocco matchup to advance as well.
While Jerry Bengtson couldn't find the scoresheet in a third straight match, he can be comforted in knowing that he'll have another opportunity: Honduras are through to the quarterfinals, were they face a mouth-watering fixture against world-powers, Brazil.
With the stakes not as high for Japan, the match was marred by a somewhat cautious tone. Japan, being already through to the quarter-final stage of the tournament, didn't possess the attacking flow they had in previous matches, and produced a far more defensive-oriented approach on the night.
Given Japan's drop-back mentality through much of the match, Honduras rarely pushed either, leading to Revs' striker Jerry Bengtson to only produce one real good scoring chance in today's match.
The opportunity came in the 38th minute, when the lanky Bengtson superbly took down a floating ball off of his chest in the box, played it past two Japanese defenders, only to see his deftly-place shot deflected away by the sprawling palm of Gonda, the Japanese keeper.
Even in a match where Bengtson was quiet offensively, I wanted to point out what really stood out to me about his game today: Bengtson's prowess in defense, particularly in his own 18-yard box on set-pieces and crosses. With Honduras needing to hold onto the draw to qualify for the knock-out phase of the tournament, Bengtson was found often times in his own defensive third, preserving the lead. With New England struggling often times on set-pieces, and with holding leads, hopefully Bengtson's defensive play will improve and bolster the Revolution defense.
Honduras will now play Brazil, on Saturday, August 4th, at legendary home of Newcastle United, St. James' Park. Kickoff is set for noon, EST.
Minutes: 250 (approximate)
Yellow Cards: 0
Red Cards: 0