The New England Revolution tied the Houston Dynamo 1-1 in an important Eastern Conference showdown. Saer Sene struck first in the 65th minute before Will Bruin brought things level in the 76th. The Revs will be upset with the result as they are currently without a playoff spot but they should be encouraged by Sene’s recent form.
There were a number of questions concerning Sene’s role on the team after the Frenchman underwent ACL surgery last September. Sene, who missed the opening four games of 2013, made seven substitute appearances before getting his first start of the season against the LA Galaxy, a game in which he scored.
“I had a hard injury last year,” Sene explained. “Mentally I wanted to get back…You have to be patient. I wanted to come back like I was last year but you have to go step-by-step.”
Even after becoming a regular starter, Sene hardly looked like the same player that he was last year when he led the team with 11 goals. Sene showed a tendency to disappear for large portions of game and failed to find the score sheet with any type of consistently. While part of his struggles can be attributed to injury setbacks, it’s also important to acknowledge the learning curve associated with playing a new position.
“I’m a striker,” Sene commented. “I play on the wide right. This is a new position for me but I’m learning a lot defensively.”
Sene has now become more adjusted to playing as an inverted winger as evident by his two goals and three assists in the last four games. With injury concerns behind him, Sene hopes that he can continue his good form and help the Revs earn their first playoff berth since 2009.
“Today I feel great,” Sene remarked. “It’s the end of the season but it’s the most important part because you want to make the playoffs. I hope that I’m going to help the team more.”
Head coach Jay Heaps will be looking for veterans like Lee Nguyen, who assisted on the Revs’ goal, and Sene to provide leadership as the team heads into the final stretch. The final four fixtures are against Eastern Conference foes that are deeply committed to the playoff race.
“I think when we get into games like this guys like Saer, guys like Lee, they’re going to lead our players,” Heaps said. “For me, Saer’s goal was really two good players on the same page. Lee weighted it perfectly.”
Although he has contributed some good numbers recently, Sene knows that he can still improve. The lanky winger was tackled off the ball 16 times on Saturday and only completed 72% of his passes. Furthermore, only one of his four shots was on goal.
“I’m feeling 100%,” Sene emphasized. “I’m working hard for the team. I feel very good. I hope to do better, if I can, for the team.”
3 Observations and Revelations
1. Agudelo is hungry. The Agudelo trade has been just as frustrating as it has been successful. Since being added to the Revolution roster on May 7th, the 20-year-old has sat out (12 games) more times than he has played (10 games). This fact is not only aggravating to the Revs’ organization but also to the player himself. Agudelo is a young player that simply wants to play. When Agudelo was summoned to replace Dimitry Imbongo in the 62nd minute, he immediately jumped over the signage and headed towards the coaching staff. While he didn’t score, there is no question that the future Stoke player brought new life to the Revolution attack.
2. The in-game tactics mattered. Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear was active from the sideline. After conceding goal, Kinnear asked his men to switch to a 3-5-2 which helped spark the equalizer. Still hoping for three points, Houston inserted two forwards in Cam Weaver and Jason Johnson. Heaps was much more subdued with his game management. The like-for-like switch of Agudelo-for-Imbongo was the only change made by the gaffer which was a bit puzzling considering the physicality and overall importance of the match. It’s troubling that the Revs, who have only won two games in which their opponent has scored, have few reliable attacking options on the bench.
3. Too many players had a bad night. Kelyn Rowe had a passing accuracy of 59% and never put a shot on frame. Diego Fagundez only attempted 23 passes, which was the lowest among starters save for Imbongo. Imbongo worked hard but was caught offside on four occasions. These are the games that key players need to show up for if the team is going to make the playoffs.
(image courtesy of Kari Heistad)