New England Revolution: Sainey Nyassi

Nyassi knows how he can get better

March, 2, 2011
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Revolution’s Sainey Nyassi is entering an important phase of his professional career. His 82 appearances for the Revolution since arriving at the tail end of the 2007 season means he no longer qualifies as a neophyte, despite just recently turning 22.

He now appears to be in the inner-circle of the Gambian senior team and with African Nations Cup qualifying in full bloom, Nyassi will have the added burden of flying to Africa for matches. Revs teammate Kenny Mansally, also of Gambia, faces the same challenges. Both players came to the Revolution as youth internationals scouted at the FIFA Under-20 tournament in Canada in 2007.

Nyassi has been the undisputed starter on the team’s right flank, looking to add to his total of seven career goals. But the player’s worth will be measured more by the danger he creates, combining his pace and trickery with quality crosses and passes into the box.

“I think I have a lot of pressure right now on my shoulders for a young guy playing a lot of games,’’ he said. “I think all I have to do is get better and better every year and I will be able to help the team in different ways. I think I just need to put things together and be strong. Get focused. That’s all.’’

Nyassi said he is fully aware of what coach Steve Nicol wants from him, and that’s to be more cunning and economical and less wasteful and self-indulgent.

“There are certain things that no one needs to tell you,’’ Nyassi said. “The coaches can tell you. But you just need to be smart, know how to maneuver in certain situations. Sometimes they’ll bring three guys to you and you just have to use your own brain, pass it around.

"I have my speed. I can use it. Play behind the defenders and get by them. Sometimes I can make clever plays and passes around. That’s all I need to do. In one-on-one situations I have to take the man on. That’s what I rely on, pace and ball work.’’

While Nyassi's speed and dribbling abilities are in abundance, Nicol said those attributes need to be wed to greater maturity.

“Everything comes down to decisions on the field and on the ball,’’ the coach said. “If he makes better decisions, he’s going to give some defenders a tough time. It’s a very big year for him. He’s been around long enough to step up and be more consistent and he’s no different to any other player.

“He’s certainly had the time on the field and he knows exactly what we expect of him,’’ Nicol said. “He has to keep doing it week in and week out, and if he does that we’ll be happy and he’ll be happy and everybody he plays against won’t be.’’

Nyassi said he is nearly at full strength after a bout with the flu. The team feared his illness was a recurrence of malaria he got during a trip to his homeland.

“I’m feeling healthy right now,’’ he said. “A couple of weeks back I got a flu, but I think I’m over it now. I’m really focusing on getting ready for the season.’’

With Gambia tied to England through a colonial past, Nyassi admitted he hopes to play in England some day.

“England would always be on my mind,’’ he said. “But it is always hard to get into that league to get the work permit and the caps you need, and I don’t have those. And, I think, your national team has to be in a certain position in the FIFA rankings to be able to play there. I’m hoping I can get there one day. My caps are increasing and I have a lot of games coming up so that puts you closer.’’

Nicol said he hasn’t had time to contemplate missing Nyassi for international call-ups and is only interested in getting the team ready for the season opener.

“At this time I’m not even thinking about it,’’ Nicol said. “Ryan Kinne (a training camp invitee) has come in and done well. [Zak] Boggs can go out wide. So we do have competition for that position. At the moment all we are thinking about is the first game of the season and nothing else.’’

Nicol is hoping the accumulation of games played against top African teams will help Nyassi’s development.

“You always talk about experience,’’ Nicol said. “It’s good experience. But like everybody else, you have to use it. Once you are given it, you have to use it. When you use it properly, it benefits the player and it benefits the team.’’

NOTES: The Revolution leave Thursday for the second journey of their preseason when they travel to Kennesaw, Ga., for 11 days. The camp’s intensity is expected to be ramped up as they will face league opposition in the Columbus Crew (twice) and Houston Dynamo. The team returned from Orlando late last week.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Revolution will be without midfielders Kenny Mansally and Sainey Nyassi for both Wednesday’s SuperLiga 2010 championship match against Monarcas Morelia and Saturday’s MLS match against Seattle Sounders FC, the Revolution said Tuesday.

Mansally and Nyassi have been called up to the Gambia national team for the squad’s African Nations Cup qualifier against Namibia on Saturday.

Mansally, 21, has five caps with the Gambia national team, while Nyassi, 21, has two. The last time the pair saw action with Gambia was January 2010.

The Revolution will host Morelia in the championship match of SuperLiga 2010 on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Nyassi, Dube cheer Ghana from afar

June, 30, 2010
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- As a West African from Gambia, Revolution midfielder Sainey Nyassi felt slightly conflicted last week when Ghana and the United States faced off in a round-of-16 World Cup match in South Africa.

“When Ghana played the U.S., I would be happy if the U.S. won because it would promote the league a lot,’’ Nyassi said. “A lot of people out there would know what MLS is about. On the other side, I’m African so I told my friends that Ghana is winning, and they did. They didn’t really surprise me because they have a lot of talented players who are young, fight hard and are energetic. So it wasn’t a surprise.’’

Ghana’s 2-1 overtime win propelled the country to the tournament’s quarterfinal round Friday against Uruguay. The Ghanaians also carried the torch for an entire continent as the sole surviving African country out of six to qualify.

“They are making every African proud,’’ he said. “They are the only African team left in the competition and hopefully they will beat Uruguay and they will get to the semifinal."

Ghana also defeated the United States in the 2006 World Cup held in Germany, then lost to Brazil in the first knockout round. This time around, the team, which has dealt admirably with the loss to injury of its most prominent player, Michael Essien (who has not played in the tourney), has ridden the talents of some young players mixed in with older veterans. Friday’s game against Uruguay could be especially challenging considering Ghana will play without 20-year-old Alex Ayew and Jonathan Mensah (suspensions), while Kevin Prince Boateng is questionable with a hamstring injury.

“Ghana is a small country and the U.S. is 10 times bigger than Ghana,’’ said Nyassi. “It’s all about commitment and what you believe as a team and what work you do on the field. Ghana came all out and worked hard as a team and that’s how they got results as a team.’’

Forward Kheli Dube, a Zimbabwe native, said Ghana has ensured that Africa would be represented into the tournament’s final stages.

“You have so much pride because they are the only African team that’s there right now,’’ he said. “Watching from here knowing that one of the African countries is doing well is a good thing. I had my money on the Ivory Coast. But I knew Ghana was a better team. If you look at Ghana, they have all the boys from the under-20’s and they won the [youth] World Cup. So if you have a mix of the big players and the young guys, it makes them work harder. I think what’s also helped the Ghana team is every time they stepped on the field they were underdogs. Then they come out big winners.’’

Dube said he never felt it would be catastrophic for Africa not to have a final eight team.

“Not really because nobody is guaranteed a place,’’ he said. “Look at Italy and France. They did not qualify and they are big names. Ghana came out and surprised. They produce a lot of talent. Look at the guys who play in Europe. It’s a lot of guys. Then look at the young guys that are coming through. You know after the World Cup they are going to Europe. So they have a good junior development cycle.’’

Nyassi said the thing he likes most about Ghana is they haven’t abandoned the creative African way of playing.

“Cameroon, Ivory Coast and other countries look more like European teams,’’ he said. “Ghana is a typical African team. You can tell by watching them play. A couple of players there are playing back in Africa so their game is a lot different than a lot of other African countries. They put things together, play as a team, fight as a team and defend as a team and that’s how they get results.’’

Dube did, however, acknowledge that the tournament would have suffered without an African team still alive.

“That would have been a blow,’’ he said. “I was there with my fingers crossed waiting for Ghana. It would have been a disappointment because the tournament is played back in Africa. Ivory Coast and countries like Nigeria should have qualified. But since Ghana is there it’s good for all African countries.’’

Nyassi, Revolution trying to get footing

May, 4, 2010
Revolution coach Steve Nicol recently sent a clarion call to referees in an effort to gain better protection of his fleet-footed winger Sainey Nyassi, who has become one of the team's focal points on offense and, as a result, a player readily abused by opponents.

The 21-year-old Gambian, who is listed at 5-foot-8 and 135 pounds but is probably a bit heavier than that, said he has felt targeted in the early going this season. And while he plans to take precautions aimed toward self-preservation, he's not going to stop being a catalyst for his team.

"I think a lot of the coaches, that's what they realize and what they tell their players, to kick me down because they can't keep up with my pace," said Nyassi who has one goal this season. "So I have to look out for myself. No one wants to get a career-ending injury with those tackles so the referee's got to look out for me. It would be a good thing for the referees to look after me."

Nyassi is expected to be in the lineup Wednesday evening when the Revolution end a three-game home stretch over 12 days by hosting Chivas USA, a team with an identical 2-3-1 record and a team that has never won at Gillette Stadium in six tries, losing five and drawing once.

"I think we have a good record against Chivas at home," added Nyassi. "We haven't lost. So all we have to do is work hard and capitalize on our chances. We know the chances will come so all we have to do is capitalize on them and make sure we finish all our chances. It will be a good game because they have good players too."

Nicol will again have to go test his bench following the ejections of Kheli Dube and Joseph Niouky in last Saturday's 1-1 draw with FC Dallas. But the coach wouldn't say who might be in the starting lineup.

"The fact we are making the two changes in the middle of the park is pretty important," he said. "So we are more interested with making sure that we are buttoned up with what we are doing. Obviously there are some things they can do that can hurt us but the most important thing is to sort ourselves out at the moment."

Last week Nicol expressed concern with FC Dallas' tendency to attack in numbers, despite the possibility of leaving themselves exposed at the back. He said that Chivas also gets people forward but is more cautious in its approach.

"Dallas was a wee bit reckless whereas [Chivas is] not reckless," he said. "They do time their runs well and get forward when it's on so we have to be careful with that. They get people forward. They get numbers, certainly in the middle of the park, so we have to be aware that when we do turn it over they are going to try to get after us quickly."

Additionally, Nicol said little has changed in terms of how he'd like to see his team pace the game and share the ball.

"It's kind of basic stuff," he said. "Just keep the ball. If we are better with the ball, they won't have it. We just have to be better with the ball."

Central defender Darrius Barnes thinks the Revolution are at an early crossroad and need to get the victory to raise the team's confidence.

"In my eyes, I was saying [Monday] I think this is a must-win game for us," said the second-year player. "Coming in here for a three-game homestand we have a loss and a tie and we definitely need to finish it up with a win so we can get a little more confidence heading into Columbus on Saturday."

Barnes said there is one important Chivas player the Revs will have to keep under wraps to limit the danger the visitors can put them under.

"They have some speed up top," he said. "Sacha Kljestan is always a threat when he is on the ball. He can strike the ball from long range. He is quick and shifty with the ball and he keeps the ball moving. He is kind of the soul of their team. We've got to keep him controlled and contained and in front of us."

Nyassy, who is known to go on a lot of one-on-one forays during games, said he hopes to integrate his game more into the team as it finds a smoother rotation of the ball.

"I think they have been sending two, three, players on me," he said. "But even though they do that I have to figure out how to get back on the game. If they send more players on me all I have to do is look for my teammates and play one-two [touch] and whenever I get a chance I have to take them one-on-one. But I've got to be wise to know when to take them on and when to play with my teammates."

Nyassi said that while the mantra has been to find a smoother, more selective, passing game, eventually it will take root.

"That's what they've been emphasizing," he said. "I know we have not been keeping the ball well the last couple of games. I think it's all about pressure on our shoulders and that's been why we have been hesitating to get goals. But we are working on it and hopefully we will get there. As soon as we start winning we can have cooler heads and maybe we can start moving the ball around, passing it around. Hopefully, we'll get there."