25 July 2011

Gambia: Nyassi Twins Finally Face Off On the Same Pitch

History was made in the United States Major League Soccer on Saturday when the Nyassi twin brothers, Sainey and Sanna played against each other for the same time on the same pitch. Until the Saturday meeting between their respective teams, the Nyassi twins, though never played in the same team after departing Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) FC, have never played against each other at the same game.

The brothers had the chance to play against each other on the same pitch during Sanna's two-year stint with the Seattle Sounders, but that never happened. But it finally came to be on Saturday as Sanna's Colorado Rapids were held to a 2-2 home stalemate by the New England Revolution of Sainey and Abdoulie Kenny Mansally. Sanna played the whole game while Sainey came off the bench in the 65th minute and their involvement was well noticed in the game as they both won penalty kicks for their respective teams that in the end proved crucial to the outcome of the game. And in the end, the Revs persevered in its second consecutive road game this time at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.

After losing to the Philadelphia Union 3-0 on July 17th, New England showed great resiliency to beat DC United 1-0 at RFK Stadium on Wednesday night. Colorado were fresh off of a 4-1 Wednesday night thrashing of Red Bull New York behind a Sanna Nyassi hat trick. New England looked as though it could be in for a long night, as goalkeeper Matt Reis was called into action in the opening minute of the match, making a sprawling save on a Kosuke Kimura shot from distance. But what followed that early Colorado scoring chance was a rare display from the Revs. The Revolution played collectively as a unit, keeping their shape, making smart passes, and refusing to give the ball away cheaply. It was precisely that discipline that helped the Revs break through first.

In the 25th minute, a long throw-in from Kevin Alston was flicked on by Stephen McCarthy before Benny Feilhaber, making a blistering run through the box, headed a powerful shot past Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens to give the Revs the lead. Sanna Nyassi picked up right where he left off against New York, getting himself into dangerous positions time after time and utilising his pace to find open space. New England did well to neutralise Colorado's most potent offensive weapon by making several crucial last stitch tackles to break-up Nyassi's fluent movement.

The Revs continued their disciplined play in the second half, keeping possession and minimising the costly mistakes that have plagued them all season long. Unfortunately for New England, two very costly mistakes eventually came, nearly causing the Revs to surrender all three points. In the 64th minute, New England defender Chris Tierney brought down Nyassi from behind in the box to give the Rapids a penalty kick. Adding insult to injury, Tierney was shown a red card as he was judged to have been the last man.

Rapids striker Caleb Folan took the ensuing penalty kick and converted to equalize for Colorado. A horrendous goalkeeping error from Reis gave Colorado the lead in the 82nd minute.

Kimura pumped a long-ball into the box, blindly searching for a teammate, but the ball ended up finding the back of the net as it bounced over an on-rushing Reis. It would have been a terrible way to lose a match that the Revolution did not necessarily deserve to lose. But New England garnered a point after referee Geoff Gamble pointed to the penalty spot when Scott Palguta brought down Sainey Nyassi in the box. Shalrie Joseph converted the spot kick in the 90th minute to claim a point for his side.

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