Nyassi, Seattle rally to defeat Whitecaps

Gambian international Sanna Nyassi made the difference as Seattle Sounders FC defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps by a score of 3-2 to cap the team’s short stint at the Grande Sports World in Casa Grande, Arizona. Nyassi continued his good preseason by scoring twice for Sounders FC while Lamar Neagle added another off a corner kick from trialist Josh Gardner.
Vancouver went into halftime with a 2-0 lead on the strength of goals from Cornelius Stewart and Ansu Toure. However, Seattle took advantage of Vancouver’s high defensive line and scored three unanswered in the second half for the final margin. Nyassi scored in the final goal in the 88th minute off a pass from Nathan Sturgis as Seattle held on for the victory.
“I think in the second half we showed a lot of character,” said Seattle coach Sigi Schmid. “The guys came out; we made them aware of (Vancouver’s defensive players) were playing high. Balls over the top were on.
“Sanna’s speed made a difference. A good finish on the corner kick — good service by Gardner, good header by Neagle. It always feels good to win games even if they’re training games.”
Nyassi’s performance was a much-needed boost for the young Gambian, who started the first game in club history before slowly falling out of favor. Playing time was tough to come by after the beginning of Ramadan in August, which was observed by the Muslim Nyassi. Fasting from sunrise to sunset for nearly an entire month took a toll on the midfielder’s strength and coincided with a drop in playing time.
During the first half of the season, Schmid often brought Nyassi on in the late stages of matches hoping for instant offense, but he only played one game after August — the final playoff match against Houston. Thursday’s strong performance could help Nyassi find his spot on the roster in 2010.
“With a little bit more he could’ve probably had four today, four or five,” Schmid said of Nyassi, adding that deploying Nyassi as a striker gave him more freedom to run and create.
Seattle started the match with a mixture of starters and trialists, bringing in 11 new players to start the second 45 minutes. In all, 22 players saw action, with Tyrone Marshall returning midway through the second half after Taylor Graham tweaked his hamstring. The injury is not considered serious for Graham, who missed nearly all of 2009 with injuries.
Seattle scored twice in the first five minutes after the interval, with Neagle deflecting a corner kick into the net and Nyassi latching onto a loose ball in the 50th minute.
The two teams will face off again in a month, March 6 at Vancouver’s Swangard Stadium. The Whitecaps are kicking off their final Division II season before joining Major League Soccer in 2011.
The scrimmage marked the end of the Seattle’s second leg of training camp. The players will spend the weekend in Seattle before departing for La Manga, Spain for additional training and a series of friendlies with Scandinavian teams. Seattle will play three matches in Spain, the first coming against Norwegian league champion Rosenborg BK. Source:

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