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Gambians lead young Revolution
by Ridge Mahoney, April 11th, 2008 6:30AM

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[MLS] It seems nothing can shut down the young New England foreign players: not injuries, not jet lag, not paperwork snafus. A day after young Gambians Kenny Mansally and Sainey Nyassi, both 19, each scored a goal in a 3-1 triumph over Kansas City, the Revs reserves tied their Wizards counterparts, 2-2, as Costa Rican striker Argenis Fernandez, 21, scored both goals after joining up with the team late Wednesday afternoon.

Fernandez had been awaiting visa clearance for nearly two months. After receiving his visa at the U.S. consulate in San Jose, he boarded a 7 a.m. flight that connected through Houston to Kansas City. He gives Coach Steve Nicol yet another option to fill in for injured forward Taylor Twellman, but there's stiff competition on the depth chart.

Visa issues and paperwork had delayed efforts to re-sign Nyassi and Mansally, who were first acquired late last season after being spotted playing for Gambia at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, yet each of them played in six preseason games. With injuries knocking a few starters out of the lineup, they've played in all three 2008 regular-season contests.

Nyassi and Mansally each scored Wednesday night in a 3-1 victory at Kansas City which was the first away win for an MLS team this season. Nyassi also gave away a goal when he knocked down Kurt Morsink in the penalty area and Jack Jewsbury converted the spot kick to tie the game, 1-1, but he restored the lead on an assist by Khano Smith, who ran onto a pass from Mansally down the left flank and hit a low cross Nyassi put away at the far post.

"They did a great job tonight," said Nicol, "but the thing to remember is they always have things to learn, but with that always comes a tremendous ability on the field."

Mansally scored the third goal five minutes before halftime after the Wizards failed to clear a free kick by Honduran Mauricio Castro, whose dead balls caused plenty of problems. In the 12th minute, Tyson Wahl's attempt to clear a Castro free kick ricocheted off Jewsbury and into the Wizards net.

Nyassi's youth cost the Revs in the second match, a 4-0 loss in Chicago. A weak midfield challenge opened up space for the Fire to score its first goal, and Chicago netted a penalty kick stemming from his foul on Justin Mapp in the box.

During the preseason, Mansally led the team with five goals and Nyassi tied for the team lead in assists with three despite suffering a nasty gash over his right eye against the Bermudan national team. The cut required a trip to the hospital.

Nyassi played one league game last year, Mansally had to wait for the 2008 season opener to make his debut. Both young Gambians bedazzled the defending champion in a 3-0 thumping of Houston March 29.

Nyassi threaded a ball to Mansally, whose saved shot rebounded to Steve Ralston for the first goal, and he capped off a spectacular night by intercepting a pass in midfield and racing upfield to fire a shot into the roof of the net that earned Goal of the Week honors. He also cleared a shot off the goal line as Houston battled to get back into the match.

"The goal felt really great," said Nyassi after the match. "I'm really happy about it. I exactly don't know, but I feel great and happy and I'm happy that I played a good game and hopefully I'll get going with it."

Exactly what Nyassi might be trying to say, as is sometimes the case as to what he has in mind on the field, isn't always clear. Yet clearly the Revs are dynamic and less predictable with their youngsters, and may soon be deeper than any other MLS team.

If Fernandez and 24-year-old Zimbabwean Kheli Dube, who assisted on both of Fernandez's goals in that reserve game, earn playing time and Castro continues with his solid play, New England will have a fleet of exciting foreign players as well as a proficient domestic core as it seeks a fourth straight trip to MLS Cup. And that's a good combination.

 



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