CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – When Sainey Nyassi blasted a pair of shots narrowly wide of the target midway through the first half of Sunday afternoon’s 2-1 win over the Columbus Crew, he didn’t hang his head.
Instead, the speedy midfielder continued to try his luck and received his reward in the 43rd minute, finding the back of the net for the second straight preseason match with a deflected drive from 20 yards.
“I wanted to take it [first] time, but I decided to take a touch and blast it in,” said Nyassi of his thought process when Marko Perovic’s corner kick was half cleared to the top of the box. “It deflected and went in.”
A similar persistence was evident on the Revolution’s second goal in the 81st minute. A pair of Kenny Mansally free kicks created dangerous chances in the 71st and 75th minutes, but it wasn’t until the Gambian delivered a corner kick nine minutes from the final whistle that the Revs finally doubled their lead.
Mansally’s service was met with an impressive diving header from rookie Alan Koger, but the former William & Mary forward saw his effort cleared off the line by a Columbus defender positioned on the post. The danger wasn’t cleared, however, and Zack Schilawski fought through a crowd and pounced on the loose ball before firing a shot into the roof of the net from close range.
“It always feels great (to score), even in preseason,” said Schilawski, who is looking to build upon a promising rookie year in which he scored five goals. “It’s just nice to get a goal as a forward and kind of put your name in the coach’s mind a little bit.”
Head coach Steve Nicol will have decisions to make with the season opener fast approaching and many players stating their case for a spot on the field. The Revs will play two more preseason matches against the Crew (March 9) and Houston Dynamo (March 13) before visiting the LA Galaxy for the real deal on March 20.
As for his impressions of Sunday afternoon’s victory – a result which pushed the Revolution to a perfect 4-0-0 this preseason – Nicol saw positives moving forward but also noted his side must cut down on the number of mistakes in order to avoid being punished in the regular season.
“There were a couple of occasions where we did make some decent combination play,” he said. “But also there were times when we carelessly gave it away. We’re obviously pleased with the first part, but we have to make sure that we don’t keep putting ourselves under pressure.
“All the pressure we were under, really, was from our own bad play,” Nicol continued. “But saying that, we had a couple of chances and it was good to win.”
Schilawski agreed the result was another confidence boost for the Revs, while the attitude and endeavor the club showed will serve them well throughout the grind of a 34-game schedule.
“Obviously it was good to get a win,” he said. “I think that means we’re competing and fighting, which is a step in the right direction. Especially this early in the season, that’s good to see.”