Photo by USA Today Sports Images
By FRANCO PANIZO
Healthy, versatile, experienced and eager to play, Saer Sene made too much sense for the New York Red Bulls to pass on the opportunity of acquiring him.
The Red Bulls landed Sene in a trade with the New England Revolution on Tuesday that saw New York ship forward Andre Akpan and allocation in return. It was essentially a like-for-like trade as far as the players go, but one that Mike Petke and the Red Bulls staff believe will bolster the club ahead of the stretch run of the season.
“With Saer, we’ve liked what he’s played over the past couple of years,” said Petke via a conference call on Tuesday. “I don’t know what’s going on over there – there’s possibly a little friction between him and the organization or something – but he’s a good player. We wanted to get him in here and want him to be a very reliable, very good option off the bench to start and see where that takes him.”
A 27-year-old Frenchman who joined the Revolution in 2012, Sene has scored 17 goals and notched eight assists in regular-season play since arriving in MLS. Injuries have, however, been an issue for him and part of the reason why he failed to get back into New England’s lineup this system on a consistent basis despite being healthy.
Sene, who suffered a torn ACL in September 2012 and bad ankle injury in October 2013, made just five starts in 10 appearances for a Revolution team that has a wealth of riches in terms of attacking options. He now joins a Red Bulls side that boasts the MLS’s current leading scorer in Bradley Wright-Phillips and assist man in Thierry Henry, but is still expected to see time this season due to his ability to play at a number of positions.
“I think he’s a very versatile player as far as attacking wise,” said Petke. “I think a two-forward system suits him better than a lone-forward system that a lot of times you find New England was playing, and out wide, yes, he has the pace, he has the skill and he likes to get forward, which is something that I like. We want our attacking players to look to get forward first and then play the safe option second.
“At the end of the day, it’s a like-for-like trade. We feel like we got quality in this trade and somebody who has the experience and has shown in the past his ability to be very dangerous. Whether that be up top or whether that be out wide, we’re confident that we’re getting somebody that is going to help us out.”
While the addition of Sene does indeed improve New York, it does not address the club’s most pressing need right now. The Red Bulls’ primary issues this season have lied in the midfield and defense, which have struggled to prevent opposing teams from finding the back of the net.
Sporting director Andy Roxburgh said last week that three moves were being worked on, but Petke would not provide any more details in terms of if a defensive player might be added in the coming days or weeks.
“We have five centerbacks signed to the roster right now, we have three right backs and we have two left backs with one other player that could fill out at left back,” said Petke. “In order to make a move, we’d have to get rid of somebody. Like I said many times, my job is to coach the team. … I’m not going to relay any information or any heads up about what’s going on on that front. But Andy is working hard behind the scenes with [technical director Ricardo Campos] and figuring it out.”