FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Saturday night’s season-opening loss to the Houston Dynamo provided little in the way of bright spots, but fans of the New England Revolution couldn’t help but crack a smile at the sight of Saer Sene entering the match in the 74th minute.
The brief stint marked Sene’s return to the field less than five months after suffering a dislocated left ankle and broken left fibula at Stade Saputo last October. It was an injury which forced Sene to miss the final two games of the 2013 regular season and the Revolution’s playoff series against Sporting Kansas City.
Sene was heartbroken to be a bystander for last year’s MLS Cup Playoffs, but those memories were finally put to bed on Saturday when he stepped onto the field at BBVA Compass Stadium.
“I was very happy, because I worked really hard during the offseason,” said Sene. “I didn’t expect to come back that early, but I worked very hard with help from the coaches and everybody. I really enjoyed the minutes on Saturday and I’m very happy to get back on the field.”
Although the timetable for Sene’s recovery projected a return sometime in March or April, he initially assumed he would miss the start of the 2014 season. He’d gone through a similarly lengthy rehab stint between the 2012 and 2013 campaigns following ACL surgery and hadn’t returned until mid-April.
But as his ankle rehab progressed rapidly through preseason, Sene gradually realized that he was on course to be ready for March 8. He joined full training sessions during the Revolution’s trip to Tucson, Ariz., and when he showed no ill effects, Sene knew he was good to go.
“The more I was getting closer in my process, in the rehab, the more I knew that I would get back earlier,” he said. “The process was fast. I started running, passing the ball and I saw that it wasn’t a long process like the knee injury. I knew on that second preseason trip; I kind of knew that I could be back for the first game.”
Because Sene missed the Revolution’s entire seven-game preseason slate, he’s admittedly short on match fitness, but he’s confident that will come back in due time. And if recent training sessions are any indication, the 27-year-old’s sharpness never left him.
That’s great news for the Revs, who stand to benefit tremendously from the attacking verve Sene provides. While he’ll likely be limited to a substitute’s role for the time being, it won’t be long before he’s pushing for a place in the starting lineup.
“I feel very good,” Sene said. “It’s not like the knee. I recovered very fast from this injury and I feel great. I’m running around, playing, having fun and I hope to start soon and try to help the team.”