Jerry Bengtson made his New England Revolution debut against New York on July 8th. He scored a goal in a 2-0 win, and then made his next appearance the following week in a 1-0 loss to Toronto. After that, he packed up and went off to London for Olympic duty with Honduras, and didn't return until last week.
He made his first start for the Revolution on Sunday in a poor 1-0 home loss to Montreal. Unbelievably, as soon as he gets back to New England and starts settling in, he's right back off again, heading to Miami for a friendly between Honduras and Boca Juniors. Jerry left on Monday morning, and hopes to be back on Thursday after playing on Wednesday.
The match is a friendly, and given that it is between a national team and a club team, I can't see it being a fully-sanctioned FIFA international. In other words, even if Jerry starts and scores a hat trick, it won't affect his recorded statistics for the national team (he'll be stuck on 22 apps and 8 goals, just like how his Olympic stats didn't count), nor will it affect the team's world rankings.
So really, the whole situation begs the question: why? Why on Earth would the Revs let their DP striker, who has made three appearances out of a possible seven since signing, jet off to play in a meaningless exhibition with absolutely nothing on the line? The team - and even Jerry, really - stand to gain absolutely nothing from this, but an injury could cost both parties everything.
And forget injuries for a minute. As I said above, apparently Bengtson will travel back to New England on Thursday, and holds out hope that he will be available to play on Saturday at Chicago. So, if Jerry comes back from this pointless friendly fully healthy, he'll still be trying to make the starting roster on two days' rest after flying over 3300 miles in a week, roughly 2100 of which will be post-Boca friendly.
Anyone who watched Sunday's match could tell that the strain of playing in the Olympic tournament, flying from London to Honduras, and then from Honduras back to Foxboro wreaked havoc on Jerry's game. He was lethargic, his touch was off, and the rust was so obvious I thought I could hear his joints screeching from the press box. So how does having him then turn around and travel thousands more miles to play in yet another non-Revolution match sound like a good idea?
Bengtson needs a chance to settle in and establish a routine. He needs to get in a rhythm and build chemistry with his teammates, especially his apparent strike partner, Saer Sene. For the Revs to have any hope of salvaging some dignity from this season, Bengtson needs to be involved, and he needs to be 100%. That isn't going to happen if he's spending half his time on the roster traveling all over the globe.
Denying Jerry permission to join his team for the friendly might be unpopular with the player. If the FIFA date means that the Revs didn't have the option of saying no, it still would have been a good idea for them to convince him not to leave, and again, Jerry might not have liked that. Frankly, though, this is the sort of tough decision that clubs all over the world make every month, and this would have been the time for Jay Heaps and the Revs to put their feet down. Instead, New England's designated player and greatest offensive hope will spend hours of valuable recovery and training time flying all over the country and playing in a senseless game.
I don't think it's the right move. Do you?
Should Jerry have been allowed to join his national team for this match? Would it have been unfair to say no? Vote in the poll and start the discussion in the comments!