Many Happy Returns: Saer Sene scores in his first start since ACL surgery

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Saer Sene wasn’t on the field for Sunday afternoon’s late offensive flourish which put an exclamation point on the New England Revolution’s emphatic 5-0 win over the LA Galaxy.

But what was more important to the French attacker is that he was on the field at the start.

Sene played the opening 65 minutes on Sunday – marking his first league start since tearing his ACL last August – and scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in the 33rd minute. It was Sene’s first goal of 2013 after leading the Revs with 11 goals last season, and it was arguably the most meaningful of his brief MLS career.

“That was a very, very special day for me,” Sene said. “I was happy to score, but the most important thing is that we won. We had a very, very, very nice win this weekend and that was very important for us.”

Sene actually returned to the field on April 13 in Seattle and made a total of seven substitute appearances before Sunday’s start, but the 26-year-old never played more than 29 minutes in any of those stints as he gradually worked his way back to full strength, both physically and mentally. He finally started and played 45 minutes in last Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup victory over the Rochester Rhinos before this past weekend’s 65-minute stint against the Galaxy.

“When you play 20 minutes or 15 minutes in the second half, it’s not the same,” Sene said. “But when you start, you have more time and more chances to be in the game.

“That helps a lot with my confidence … I’m happy that the process is going well, I’m happy that I came in and got some confidence back, helped the team and worked hard.”

Sene said he felt “very good” but admitted to being “a little bit tired” after making his longest appearance in more than nine months, adding that the more he plays, the fitter he’ll become. But just as much as Sene is aiming to regain his fitness, he’s also aiming to regain the confidence he showed throughout his breakout 2012 campaign.

After Sunday’s performance, he’s well on his way.

“I’m pretty close,” Sene said. “I feel it; it’s coming. Step by step, every day in practice I’m working hard – and in the game, too – to get that feeling back. I feel that I’m close.”