Almost every MLS team has exploited the new rule allowing an increased number of senior international players on rosters by quickly signing up numerous seasoned South and Central Americans. So far the results have been mixed. Meanwhile, the New England Revolution bucked the trend by taking in two young Gambians, yielding quick returns from the players discovered at last summer's U-20 World Cup in Canada and signed shortly thereafter.
Sainey Nyassi, 19, has so far made six appearances, including five starts, and is joint top scorer with two goals. He and compatriot Kenny Mansally (the other top scorer, and also just 19) have helped fill the breach created by the departure of Pat Noonan and injury to Taylor Twellman.
"I don't want to be a defender facing Sainey," says Revs' coach Steve Nicol. "I'm most surprised at how quickly he's stepped up. There's nothing better than watching somebody with natural ability playing the game, and that's what he has. He's got great work ethic, and you stick those two things together and you usually do well." The key, Nicol continues, is playing time, because you can only get so far in training. "When you play your first game and are involved in the goals, you gain confidence. It changes everything."