Photo by Tony Quinn/ISIphotos.com
By THOMAS FLOYD
Colorado striker Sanna Nyassi has always been a quality MLS player, good for a speedy spark off the bench and a capable option in the starting lineup when called upon.
The New York Red Bulls defense, however, made him look like an MVP candidate Wednesday, as Nyassi notched a hat trick and chipped in an assist in Colorado's 4-1 win.
Nyassi, who shifted up top to replace the injured Conor Casey, repeatedly torched New York right down the middle. Centerbacks Tim Ream and Carlos Mendes had no answer for the Gambian, and the central midfield duo of Mehdi Ballouchy and Dax McCarty did little to help as the Red Bulls seemed to particularly miss the presences of defender Rafael Marquez and midfielder Teemu Tainio.
"I would say a nightmare defending, probably, in the middle of the park," New York coach Hans Backe said. "A nightmare for our two center backs and the center midfield, which is very important, to block in the middle of the park. If you leave that much space for guys like Cummings and Nyassi, then you will be in trouble, definitely."
Here are some more notes from around the Eastern Conference:
For winger Patrick Nyarko, Saturday's friendly against Manchester United will come with a conflict of emotions, as the "die-hard fan" of the Red Devils will find himself going head to head with players he described as his "heroes."
"I want to say I want to beat Manchester United, but at the same time I hate to see them lose ever," Nyarko told MLSsoccer.com. "Hopefully I can play a great game and maybe it ends in a tie or something. That would be ideal."
After Columbus dropped a 1-0 result to the Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday, forward Tommy Heinemann noted that while the Crew was disappointed with the result, there was a positive side to sticking around with the top team in the league.
"Especially toward the end of the game, we were really taking it to them," Heinemann said to MLSsoccer.com. "We persevered. A lot of guys put in a good effort tonight. There's a lot of positives to take away, but we wanted to get points out of this match. L.A. is at the top of the league, so it’s a good measuring stick for us."
There weren't many positives for United to take away from its 1-0 loss to the New England Revolution on Wednesday that dropped D.C. to 2-3-5 at home. But newly acquired midfielder Austin da Luz did make a favorable impression coming on as a 71st-minute substitute and seems poised to play a bigger role for United than he did during his time with New York.
"I wasn't getting too many looks up in New York, so hopefully I'll get a great opportunity for some playing time down here," da Luz said after training Tuesday. "[New York] is a difficult team to break into. There are so many talented guys, older guys with more experience. The attitude there is win now, and I think there is a lot of pressure, a lot of tension around the team because of that, and that's not always a conducive environment to develop young players."
Speculation is that left back Mike Chabala and midfielder Lovel Palmer will be traded from Houston today after the duo were dropped from the game-day roster for the Dynamo's 2-0 loss to Bolton on Wednesday. Houston president Chris Canetti told the Houston Chronicle, "We will have an official comment [Thursday].
Palmer tweeted that he was "going green" before deleting the post. The tweet would suggest the Jamaican is heading to either the Seattle Sounders or the Portland Timbers.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
Not much had gone right for the Revolution this season prior to Wednesday night's 1-0 win at D.C. United. But New England, which improved to 4-9-7 with the win, did get some good fortune at RFK Stadium when United striker Charlie Davies blasted his first-half penalty kick over the crossbar.
"We obviously got a break with [Davies] missing the penalty, but we haven't had a break since I think we played them last," coach Steve Nicol said, referring to New England scoring two controversial goals in its 2-1 win over D.C. in March. "Everything we've gotten with our team, we've had to claw to get."
Once the dust had settled after Philadelphia's 1-0 win over Everton on Wednesday, goal-scorer Christian Hernandez, a 17-year-old academy player, still couldn't believe what had transpired earlier in the evening, when he notched the contest's lone goal.
"Shocking. Coming in in the 67th minute and getting that chance and putting it in, it's amazing," Hernandez said to the Philadelphia Daily News. "It felt like a dream. When I was running, it felt like I was floating … [Union coach] Peter Nowak gave me congratulations and told me just to stay positive and keep my feet on the ground and keep moving forward."
SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Livestrong Sporting Park has received rave reviews since opening its doors in June, and the reaction from Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew following his side's scoreless draw against Kansas City was no different.
"The stadium is absolutely top-drawer," Pardew said. "Coming from our league, I can attest that this would easily be in the top amongst stadiums in our league."
Defenders Eddy Viator and Andy Iro, midfielder Torsten Frings, and forwards Danny Koevermens and Ryan Johnson all made their debuts for Toronto FC on Wednesday, but the result was all-too familiar, as coach Aron Winter's side fell 1-0 to FC Dallas on a spectacular strike from Brek Shea. After the game, Frings discussed his taking on a leadership role with the struggling Reds.
"That's what I am here for. We have a young team and I want to show them leadership," Frings said to CBC Sports through a translator. "I want to give them some confidence and motivation because we are on a losing streak right now."