For Sounders' Nyassi, big moments come in bunches
SEATTLE— After Sanna Nyassi scored his first career MLS goal against Toronto on Saturday, Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said he told Nyassi he wasn’t going to wait two years for his next goal.
Turns out, he only had to wait three days.
Nyassi exploded for two opportunistic goals Tuesday as the Sounders earned their second consecutive U.S. Open Cup with a 2-1 win over the visiting Columbus Crew.
WATCH: SOUNDERS PLAYERS REACT TO USOC FINAL
After the match, coaches and teammates heaped praise upon the diminutive midfielder.
“Obviously it started last week against Toronto. To get a couple of goals tonight—huge, huge goals—I couldn’t be happier for him,” General Manager Adrian Hanauer said.
The sentiment was the same from the rest of his teammates. Above the din immediately after the match and before the trophy presentation, midfield counterpart Steve Zakuani shouted that he was “happy for Sanna.”
The 21-year-old departs Wednesday morning for Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in West Africa. There he will reunite with the Gambian national team for an African Cup of Nations qualifier. That flight will be much more enjoyable now for Nyassi, who has now scored three times in his last two games.
“My confidence keeps growing,” Nyassi said. “After scoring two goals tonight, I continue working hard at training and making sure I do a lot of finishing at training.”
[inline_node:319884]The reserved Nyassi showed there is some Superman to his Clark Kent, providing the two indelible moments of this closely-contested match. Even though Seattle held the edge in possession, they mustered only five shots on goal. Three of those went to Fredy Montero.
The other two were put in the net by Nyassi, who became the first multiple-goal scorer in the finals in the pro era of the U.S. Open Cup (1995-present).
Nyassi was unaware he’d made such history, and in his usual soft-spoken manner, he said that he hopes his team can break the record again next season.
“Good feeling tonight after breaking the deadlock the other day, the chances came tonight and I made sure I finished both of them,” he said. “Victory for us. We can set the record. It’s history. The first team to win the trophy twice in a row. Great feeling.”
If anything, the match turned on Seattle’s success on the flanks. Nyassi turned in a strong effort on the right side while Zakuani got the better of Frankie Hejduk over 90 minutes on the left, victimizing the veteran on the game’s second goal. The Crew defense committed the cardinal sin of letting a ball bounce in the penalty area, with Zakuani the first to pounce.
Zakuani’s header hit the crossbar and was pushed in by Nyassi for the game-winning goal.
“That second goal came from nowhere," Crew coach Robert Warzycha said.
Nowhere? Not quite. The wrong time for the Crew, yes, but just the moment Nyassi and the Sounders were eager to seize on the way to a title.