While Nyassi draws his fair share of one-versus-one coverage, he also combats a hefty dose of sturdier attention as opponents suffocate him with additional bodies, punishing his flimsy frame and restricting his ability to use speed to expose fullbacks.
“It's kind of frustrating sometimes,” Nyassi told MLSsoccer after New England's 2-1 loss to Colorado on Saturday night. “All I can do is maybe get a striker [off of me] and play a one-two to just get by them. Sometimes, it's frustrating when I'm getting beat up all of the time and the referee's not helping me at all. It's frustrating for me.”
Nyassi isn't the only person frustrated by the treatment. New England boss Steve Nicol addressed reporters after the loss to Colorado and suggested referees needed to do a better job of protecting Nyassi in the run of play in order to allow him to influence the match.
“I'm kind of getting fed up trying to look after Sainey Nyassi,” Nicol said. “Game after game, he's getting kicked, pushed, shoved, you name it and nothing's going on. He's going to be badly injured soon if the referees don't take care of him.”
Although Nicol believes Nyassi needs more help from referees in order to remain effective on the field, he doesn't plan on encouraging the Gambian international to go to ground more easily in order to tempt the man in the middle into granting an extra call or two.
“We encourage our players to stay on their feet, be strong and go about it the right way,” Nicol said. “It's really not getting us anywhere. This is not the first time we've come up against decisions going against us when they shouldn't have. Half the problem is that our guys are too honest. They want to stay on their feet and they want to keep playing. They aren't being rewarded with what they should be.”