In 48 appearances for the Honduran National Team, 27-year old forward Jerry Bengtson has netted 22 goals, including nine in ten World Cup Qualifying starts. In 35 appearances for the stateside Revolution, Bengtson has developed a far inferior resume, with just four goals to his name.
His performance - or lack thereof - has instituted a tale of two Jerrys, a story made prominent by faithful Revolution supporters. Now just days away from Brazil vs. Croatia and the introduction of the 2014 World Cup, we break down the mystery of an international celebrity...and local stranger.
Jerry: A Catrachos Savior
Stat Line: 48 appearances (41 starts), 3515 minutes, 22 goals
Tall, powerful, and always aware of the right run at the right time, Bengtson has shone for Honduras since his 2010 debut.
In the 2012 London Olympic Games, the well-built striker led his inexperienced international side to the quarterfinals, scoring three goals in four matches. His double-dip against Morocco initially made headlines, though his 7th minute game-winner against Spain drew admiration from fans worldwide.
Prior to the Summer Games, Bengston, midfielder Roger Espinoza (Wigan Athletic) and defender Maynor Figueroa (Hull City) made coach Luis Suarez's roster as Honduras' three over-aged players. Bengston proved his worth from start to finish.
For the coveted striker, however, an historic Olympic run only led way to an even brighter showing during 2014 World Cup Qualifying. In a crucial October match again Costa Rica, Bengston scored a 64th minute game-winner, clinching a top-four finish in CONCACAF qualifying. Bengston also scored a 79th minute game-winner against a complete U.S. roster, putting away The Yanks, 2-1, to open Honduras' qualifying run.
In preparation for his biggest campaign to date, Bengston scored goals - and he scored meaningful goals (nine of them). The Santa Rose de Aguan native held-up with strength, finished with poise and roamed the pitch with purpose, pairing with former Dynamo man Carlo Costly to develop a dynamic attacking pair.
An other-worldly stat line--nine goals in 891 qualifying minutes--helped Bengston serve as Honduras' most productive (and efficient) attacker, drawing praise from all corners of the Central American country. For just the third time in national history, Honduras will compete for the World Cup crown.
Jerry: A Revolution Afterthought
Stat Line: 35 appearances (23 starts), 2181 minutes, 4 goals
In July 2012, the Revolution added Bengtson from Honduras side CD Motagua, acquiring the up-and-coming forward in advance of the 2012 Summer Olympics. Fittingly, Bengtson scored in his debut, coming off the bench during a 2-0 win over rival New York. Unfortunately for the Revolution, Bengtson would score just once more during the 2012 season, spanning 822 minutes of play.
As critics questioned Bengtson's transition from Central America to North America, the forward began preparing for his 2013 campaign. Once again, he scored in his debut, helping the Revs to a 1-0 opening-night win over Chicago. This time, however, Bengtson stalled for more than a year--11 starts, seven substitute appearances--before collecting his next tally. Since joining the Revolution, the man who has scored a goal every 115 minutes for country has scored a goal every 545 minutes for club, a contrast that feels all too familiar for New England supporters.
Now four months into the 2014 season, Bengtson has seemingly fallen out of the mix, failing to make an appearance since April 26th. The Honduran international has missed point-blank shots and open nets, played with apathy, failed to hold-up with any strength and, most importantly, struggled to show interest for a complete, 90-minute match. As a result, attackers Patrick Mullins, Steve Neumann and Teal Bunbury have taken over up top, with veteran Saer Sene occupying occasional minutes in a forward role. With his club future in flux, New England supporters have cast aside the Honduran hero, instead focusing on the young, promising talent that has guided the Revolution to the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
So, what's next for Jerry Bengtson? A strong World Cup showing may work wonders for the efficient goal scorer, though Bengtson's ability to translate international achievement into domestic success has yet to be seen. For now, fans will ponder the ocean-wide gap that separates Jerry in royal and white from Jerry in navy and red, cheering on the Central American icon every step of the way.
And in the end, if Jerry the "Catrachos Savior" returns to New England, supporters will welcome him with open arms.