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Nyassi races past Red Bulls

July 20, 2011 | 10:56 pm No comments
By Shaun Schafer

New York Red Bulls Tim Ream just can't stop Colorado Rapids Sanna Nyassi during the game Wednesday night, July 20, at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Nyassi goes on to score three more goals, helping the Rapids crush the Red Bulls 4-1. (Photograph by Jessica Taves/ColoradoSoccerNow.com)

Sanna Nyassi answered the question of who would score in Conor Casey’s absence and delivered one of the best performances ever by a Colorado Rapids player on Wednesday night.

The midfielder-cum-forward scored three goals and got credit for an assist on the fourth as the Rapids eviscerated the New York Red Bulls 4-1 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

Nyassi earned extra credit for not making fans wait long to see how the team would respond to the loss of leading scorer Casey to a ruptured Achilles tendon. Eighty seconds into the match, Nyassi arrived at the end of a give-and-go with Omar Cummings and knocked the ball into the back of the net.

Colorado, playing with a verve and intensity that had been missing at home since season-opening wins over Portland and D.C., doubled the lead in the 26th minute when a long-range Nyassi shot came off the near post and into the path of Wells Thompson. The midfielder knocked the ball down and slotted it into the back of the net.

The magic continued four minutes later when Nyassi again ran onto a Cummings pass and dumped it into the back of the goal.

Wells Thompson (right) celebrates his goal of the evening with Omar Cummings during the match against the New York Red Bulls, Wednesday night, July 20, at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Rapids take the match 4-1. (Photograph by Jessica Taves/ColoradoSoccerNow.com)

A 3-0 lead at the half-hour mark looked to be more than enough, as the Red Bulls attack was ineffective, and seemed bent on hoping for a fortuitous whistle. Designated player Thierry Henry seemed to be the biggest beneficiary of such tweets. While his game statistics show him suffering five fouls, at least two of them were merely times when he was dispossessed by defenders and earned a sympathetic ear from the referee.

The Rapids finally took the foot off the gas pedal when Nyassi completed his hat trick. In the 61st minute, Nyassi collected another Cummings pass and raced down the center of the field. He beat both centerbacks and punched in the final Rapids goal of the night.

New York earned a measure of respect in the 67th minute as Juan Agudelo used his pace to create some space on the far side before cutting the ball back toward the 18. Strike partner Henry, who spent much of the second half playing in the left midfield, arrived to pass the ball into the goal and earn his league-leading 10th tally of the season.

Victory, however, was secured for the Rapids, and the team spent the remainder of the game killing off opportunities for Red Bull attacks, but rarely showing much desire to go forward.

Finally, as Nyassi departed for Andre Akpan in the 85th minute, the robust crowd of 15,227 provided the exclamation on the new striker’s three-goal outburst and sent him to the bench with a standing ovation.

Streaking: Thompson may need to watch out. He has scored in consecutive games for the first time this season, and he earned a yellow card for his goal celebration. If he is going to keep scoring, he needs to not get himself carded.

Big Yellow: Dane Richards, Jan Gunnar Solli and former Rapid Mehdi Ballouchy all picked up cautions for the Red Bulls.

Ballouchy’s was particularly galling as it came on a dive in the penalty area moments after Thompson’s goal. The Morrocan midfielder went airborne when he lost possession on the edge of the penalty area. It was like watching a 4-year-old lie as he tried to sell the foul in search of a penalty kick.

Well Done: Rarely do officials deserve praise. However, with the exception of protecting Henry from his age and faltering skills the crew of Silviu Petrescu in the center and assistants Daniel Belleau and Eric Proctor did an outstanding job.

This Month: The Rapids (7-6-9, 30 points) melted in July 2010, going winless for the month. So far, the team is 2-1-2 in July with two games remaining.

Road Worriers: New York fell to 6-5-11, 29 points, with the loss. The team now has one win in 12 road games this year.

Long Time Coming: Nyassi was the first Rapid to score a hat trick since Casey on Aug. 8, 2009. Intriguingly, Cummings had assists on all three of Nyassi’s goals and all three of Casey’s goals two years ago.

This was the greatest offensive output from the Rapids since defeating D.C. United by the same score at home on April 3.

Record Setting: No Rapid has ever scored more than three goals in a game. Nyassi is the latest of seven Rapids to earn a hat trick.

Next Up: Colorado gets another home date before the All-Star Game on July 27. The Rapids host the New England Revolution at 7 p.m. Saturday at DSG Park.

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