The past couple of months posed an exercise in patience for Saër Sène.
After last year's torn ACL, he returned to the field ahead of schedule in April, but struggled to produce his double-digit goal form from a year ago or warrant a place in the New England Revolution's starting XI.
Every week offered a fresh chance for the forward to conjure the necessary signs of revival. Flickers cropped up here and there to reveal his slow, but steady, progress. The dynamic changed over the weekend, however, when the French striker uncorked a stunning shot from distance – a dipping, swerving effort for his second goal of the season – to offer a glimpse of what he can provide on a regular basis.
“I work on it in practice, I don’t know how to explain,” Sène told reporters after the 2-0 victory over San Jose on Saturday. “My shot is like a strange way, sometimes I shoot and it is strong. I just try to put in on the goal and I know the ball is going to do something well.”
It is a product of his revised role within the setup. His new position, a hybrid forward/winger role on either flank, depending on the how the match unfolds, provides him with the latitude to cut inside and unleash at will. Now he is starting to take advantage of that space provided to him.
Revolution coach Jay Heaps waited for the better part of a couple of months to see Sène impose his will on a match. He eased Sène back into the fold with seven substitute appearances before handing him his first league start of the campaign on June 2. Sène needed the additional time to recover his sharpness after missing the first month-and-a-half to recover from knee surgery, but his overall contribution suggests the gradual progression has paid off.
“I think Saër has that ability with that left foot to make a move,” Heaps told reporters. “For me, Saër had a good game for us, not just in the finish, but more so with what he did work related. I think that he showed he works hard off the ball, he works hard to defend and he did a nice job creating as well.”
“No, [I’m still] not back to 100 percent,” Sène said. “I need time. After injuries, it’s hard because you lose your rhythm, and you have to work hard to get it back. But I am getting back slowly. The coach and everyone is giving me the time to play 90 minutes and I’m going to get back and try to do my best for the team.”