Dillon Serna Earning Starting Minutes: Confident But Taking Nothing For Granted

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ATLANTA, GA JUNE 24: Colorado's Dillon Serna (17) moves the ball up the field during a match between Atlanta United and the Colorado Rapids on June 24, 2017 at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field in Atlanta, GA. Atlanta United FC defeated Colorado Rapids 1 0. (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Editorial (August 4, 2017)Dillon Serna was the third Homegrown player signed in Colorado Rapids history in 2013. The 23-year-old has struggled at times in his career to get starting minutes. After a hard fought comeback from a serious injury, Serna is finally getting a chance to start regularly. He’s taking advantage and not taking for granted.

Dillon Serna Earning Starting Minutes: Confident But Taking Nothing For Granted

It was a little over a year ago: Dillon Serna tore his ACL in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup game at FC Dallas in July of 2016. He would miss the rest of the season as the Rapids nearly made it to the MLS Cup Final.

Coming Back From The ACL Tear:

Going into the season there were doubts about when Serna would be back. Or what version of Serna would be there. The Academy product made just one league appearance in his 2013 rookie year. He had a decent campaign in 2014, making 18 starts, but had struggled since then. He was on a good run of form prior to the injury last year.

Serna didn’t get down on himself though: “Someone told me to make this injury the best thing that’s ever happened. Gain perspective and work hard. Improve in other areas in life and in my game.”

The midfielder spent the rest of the season rehabing. He worked through the off-season as well. As the Rapids were heading into preseason, the training staff gave him the ok to join his teammates. Despite an ACL tear, he was in the 18 for the opening game of the season, nine months after his injury.

He’s on pace to pass his 2016 and 2015 total minutes played with one more start. Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni has seen what he’s capable of and they’re just now tapping into it. After two difficult years, Serna might finally be cementing himself as a regular starter in MLS.

A New Outlook And Contributing Regularly:

The Brighton, CO native took his rehab in stride. It gave him a chance to reflect and be thankful for what he had in life and in soccer. The injury gave him a new mentality on his career. “The approach to the game definitely changed. It put things in perspective for me. This career isn’t given to anyone. You have to prove yourself everyday.”

He isn’t taking anything for granted now. The injury helped him mature. He took that advice to heart, and turned his injury and rehab period into a positive going forward. We’re just now seeing the fruits of that year long labor and commitment.

Serna has started the last six league games for Colorado. He’s provided some dynamic wide play, balancing Marlon Hairston on the opposite wing. He’s using his speed in a smarter way to be efficient and create chances for himself and for others. It’s something the Rapids have needed and have been working to improve. They are averaging just one goal a game in league play.

“I’m a player that brings energy. I like to get forward, I like to attack. Whenever I’m around the box, I’m looking to score,” Serna said.

The Rapids offense has been in neutral of late, but Serna has been a bright spot individually. He does yeoman’s work on the flank on both sides of the ball. He’s linked up well at times with Bismark Boateng and Mohammed Saeid. As he said, he’s always looking to shoot. They’ll need him to more of that if the team is going to turn 2017 around.

Colorado brought on Connor Casey as an assistant coach to effectively be the offensive coordinator. Serna has been a part of this transition project and he’s showing signs of potential.

Serna chooses to keep it real though. He’s never too high; he’s never too low. But he embodies the Mastroeni Mantra in many ways. When asked about what’s working for him after a home win against the Houston Dynamo, the player said “it’s confidence. I’m confident right now. I feel like I can contribute.”

The coaching staff believes him. He believes in himself. He’s just going to keep his head down and prove himself everyday. The Rapids will need him to do that if they’re going to make the playoffs.

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