Nyassi: I knew I could beat TFC defender
New England right winger Sainey Nyassi looked at Toronto FC's
team sheet before Saturday night's 4-1 win at Gillette Stadium and spotted a
After stalwart left back Jim Brennan retired, Toronto signed
Raivis Hscanovics to fill the hole and handed the Latvian fullback his MLS
debut against the Revolution. Once Nyassi saw TFC opted to start Hscanovics, he
decided to test the Reds' new defender early and often.
“I knew I could beat him,” Nyassi said. “He's a new guy in the
league. I think he landed three days ago and [I thought] he must be a little
bit tired, so I decided to always go at him.”
Challenging fullbacks isn't a new approach for Nyassi. The
21-year-old Gambian international attempts to exploit defenders frequently with
his considerable pace, though he has yet to obtain the consistency to do so
game in and game out.
Unfortunately for the visitors, Nyassi produced a performance
that made Hscanovics' debut particularly uncomfortable. Whenever he collected
the ball in space on the right wing, Nyassi ran at Hscanovics. Revolution coach
Steve Nicol said he encouraged Nyassi's approach once he saw the Gambian dart
past his marker in the early stages of the contest.
“Right from the word go, Sainey ran right past him,” Nicol
said. “[Hscanovics] ended up getting booked early in the game, so we just told
Sainey that we wanted to be getting the ball wide and we wanted him running at
the guy. If he stayed on any longer, he was going to get sent off. He couldn't
handle Sainey's pace. Obviously, that paid off.”
Although Nyassi unsettled Hscanovics in the early stages of
the contest, the matchup didn't yield tangible dividends until the second half.
New England struggled to find their way through Toronto's organized midfield
and provide enough service to the wide areas in the first half. The situation
changed at the start of the second half as the Revolution midfield—marshaled by
the returning Shalrie Joseph—gradually assumed control of the match and started
to spray the ball around with some regularity.
“We got Shalrie back, so he always know when to play the ball
wide and when not,” Nyassi said. “That's what we've worked on and Stevie kept
telling us to get the ball wide all the time. Shalrie was fantastic tonight. I
was getting the ball a lot. That's what I want: to get more balls on the wide
Nyassi showed what he could do once he received a steady
supply of service two minutes after the interval. After collecting the ball on
the halfway line, Nyassi played a one-two with Kheli Dube to exploit the space
behind Hscanovics. One pinpoint cross and a tidy finish by Zack Schilawski
later and the Revs were on level terms after falling behind to a Dwayne De Rosario
header in the opening stanza.
The equalizer opened the floodgates as Schilawski completed
his hat trick within 11 minutes as a combination of effective wide play down
the right and shoddy TFC defending fueled the Revolution attack. The third goal—another
cross from the right wing, this time by Dube, for another Schilawski simple
finish—chased Hscanovics from the game with a half-hour to play.
Unrelenting, Nyassi then tormented his replacement, Nane
Joseph, by intercepting a slack back pass and firing home the Revolution's
fourth goal after 66 minutes.
“Sainey's talent is unbelievable,” Joseph said. “It's just a
matter of him putting all of that stuff together. He and Kenny [Mansally,
Revolution midfielder], they're going to be unbelievable kids to watch. He
played some great balls in with Zack finishing them. That's what we work on in
training and that's what they did tonight.”