Saer Sene showed on Saturday night why clubs in France's Ligue 1 are trying to snag him in the transfer window. He scored his second goal of the season off a 25-yard rocket to lead the Revolution to a 2-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes in front of 13,732 at Gillette Stadium.
"It's very important that we won," said Sene, who is garnering interest from France's Sochaux. "It's the first time we're in a playoff spot. We work hard, sometimes we give points away. We tie when we should win. But tonight everything was on our side to win the game and we did it."
The Revolution got an insurance goal in the 78th minute, as Dimitry Imbongo, who came on in the 68th minute for Chad Barrett, slid a feed from Lee Nguyen into the back of the net to make it 2-0.
San Jose were without several starters due to injuries, suspensions, and national team duties, most notably Victor Bernardez, Chris Wondolowski, and Stephen Lenhart. They also entered the game tired, coming off a loss to Chicago on Wednesday. The gassed Earthquakes resorted to physical play in an attempt to break-up the Revolution's rhythm.
But the tactic didn't pay off as the Revolution took control early.
Sene's goal came from the Revolution's first offensive play of the game. In the 13th minute, he took control of possession on the edge of the penalty area and fired a shot that San Jose's Jon Busch had to knock away. Stephen McCarthy headed the rebound to Nguyen, who then played Sene just outside the penalty area. Sene looked up and left-footed a blast that flew into the upper right corner of the net.
"When he gets that left foot, he shows he has an ability to make it move," praised Heaps. "He works hard off the ball, he works hard to defend, but he works hard creating as well."
Chad Barrett got his first start since March over Jerry Bengston, who wasn't even on the bench. Barrett had two bids to double the Revolution's advantage. The first came in the 16th minute when he narrowly missed an open Diego Fagundez in the heart of the penalty area for what would have been an easy putaway. The second came in the 28th minute when Barrett went in behind the defense off a pass from Scott Caldwell, but chipped inches wide of the right post.
Imbongo replaced Barrett in the 68th minute, a key move by Heaps.
That's because the Revolution were significantly out-shooting and out-passing San Jose, but were unable to find the breakthrough. And though San Jose were getting outplayed, being down 1-0 allowed them to have sniffs at an equalizer.
Their best chance came from a header by Walter Martinez in the 76th minute off a long throw-in which Jose Goncalves cleared off the line.
Imbongo had the fresh legs necessary to score a goal and end to San Jose's attempts to level the game. Two minutes after the Revolution nearly conceded, Kelyn Rowe picked out Nguyen, who drove a low ball across the penalty area that Imbongo slid onto and redirected into the back of the net.
"The timing was perfect because we wanted to score the goal," explained Imbongo. "We had so many chances in the first half. I had the chance and I didn't want to give it away, not this time, I wanted to score."
It's an important victory for the Revolution, who have been flirting with overtaking the Eastern Conference's fifth and final playoff spot since mid-June. The Revolution will be in position to take decisive control of that playoff spot next Saturday when they host Houston, who have been neck and neck with New England in this recent stretch.
"We have to prepare ourselves and start thinking of Houston, as of right now," Heaps added.
"We can make a huge jump and put ourselves in a really good spot," chimed in McCarthy, who has been a mainstay in the Revolution's league-best back line. "Houston's going to be really good. We're going to have to be even better."
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