New England displayed its faith in young wingers Kenny Mansally and Sainey Nyassi by inking them to new deals during the offseason. The key for the 21-year-old Gambian wingers lies in figuring out a way to transfer that faith into consistently influential performances.
Like most young players, Mansally and Nyassi often display their abilities in fits and starts. Revolution coach Steve Nicol continued to keep the duo on the field (Nyassi played 28 matches in 2009, Mansally featured in 25) even if he needed to drop them to the bench to freshen up the side or shake up their flagging form, but he wants to see his wingers make an impact on a more regular basis in this campaign.
"It's about consistency," Nicol said. "They've both got pace, they like to go at people and they're strong. It's just a case of being consistent. That's the key for them."
Mansally said he understands that he needs to produce more often in order to keep his starting place on the left wing with Mauricio Castro also in the fold and Marko Perovic looming as a possible option after the Revs declared their interest in him last week. Mansally mustered just one goal and two assists during the 2009 campaign and wants to increase those totals in 2010.
"I want to be in the starting lineup, so I want to be in every game," Mansally said. "For that, I have to work hard to improve and score and assist more goals."
While Nyassi also wants to boost his production after registering two goals and an assist last season, he said he's focusing on harnessing his speed and using it to better effect. Nyassi often struggles to figure out when to link up with his teammates and when to deploy his pace against isolated fullbacks.
"I need to focus and notice what is happening," Nyassi said. "If I have two guys on me, all I have to do is play the ball to my teammates. But if I have a player one-on-one with me, I have to have the confidence to take him on. It creates a lot of chances for the team. I will keep on doing it if it helps the team."
Both players may open the season in the starting XI in Los Angeles on Saturday night, but Nicol said Mansally and Nyassi will have to continue to grow as players and show they are worth their places in order to remain there.
"Obviously, they're expecting to start, but they're only going to start if they are producing," Nicol said.