As a four-year product of the Honduran National Team, forward Jerry Bengtson has developed into a world-class striker - but only on the international stage. An underwhelming club run with the New England Revolution has done little to shake his international confidence, though, as the forward has scored 22 goals in 48 appearances with Honduras' senior squad. This summer, Bengtson will suit up for Honduras coach Luis Suarez, looking to guide his club out of a difficult World Cup Group that includes Ecuador, Switzerland and injury-riddled France.
In advance of soccer's greatest spectacle, we break down Bengtson's international resume - and offer our hopes and projections for his World Cup debut.
Forward - Honduras / 48 appearances (41 starts) / 3515 minutes / 22 goals
How He Got Here: For Bengston, the trip to Brazil began in 2012, when the 27-year old first broke onto the international stage during London's Summer Olympic Games. Three goals in four matches, including a game-winner against Spain, led an inexperienced Los Costrachos side to the quarterfinals. Bengtson then rode his fame to an elite showing during World Cup Qualifying, serving as Honduras' most efficient attacker (nine goals in 891 minutes, or one goal every 99 minutes). Along the way, the Honduran established a knack for scoring big goals in meaningful spots, including a 64th minute game-winner against Costa Rica that clinched a top-four finish for the royal and white. Now, for just the third time in Honduras' history, Bengtson and his international teammates will travel to 20th FIFA World Cup, looking to upset a trio of talented countries.
Role in the Squad: Beside fellow six-footer Carlos Costly, Bengtson will serve as Suarez's more physical, body-up striker. The Revolution man stands a full inch shorter than his attacking ‘mate, though he plays to his physical gifts more than Costly, who benefits from blistering pace and world-class footwork. The strong and gritty poacher often finds himself in the right place, at the right time, threatening with the ability to score from virtually anywhere in the attacking third. Suarez will surely employ his skill set in the Starting XI, trusting in Bengtson as one of his premier finishers.
Hopes and Projections: Though few expect Honduras to threaten Group E's favorites, the Central American side will aim to make noise from the bottom of the table. If they do - and send Ecuador, Switzerland or France packing - analysts will likely credit Bengtson as the team's X-Factor; Honduras' attack looks infinitely more dangerous with the pesky striker on the pitch.
Expect the Revolution man to counter Costly with a strong, physical frame, working to maintain possession and create space in the attacking third. If Bengtson can sustain his typical pace, look for the talented striker to collect his first World Cup tally, helping the Hondurans to a surprise finish - by fending off an elite country, or by finishing in the top three - in Group E.