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Nyassi hopes he has bugs out

Outlook is healthy for him to improve

SAINEY NYASSI Bout with malaria SAINEY NYASSI
Bout with malaria
By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / February 23, 2011

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Sainey Nyassi felt he was reliving a nightmare when he woke up ill before the Revolution’s opening preseason game last week. In October, Nyassi had contracted malaria, causing him to miss the team’s postseason workouts. And as the Revolution prepared to meet the University of Central Florida, Nyassi told coach Steve Nicol the disease seemed to be flaring up again.

As it turned out, Nyassi was simply experiencing flu symptoms; he has been able to play in both Revolution games and will be in the lineup on the right wing against FC Dallas today.

Nyassi has become acclimated to the New England chill, and piles of snow and subfreezing temperatures have become a welcome sight compared with the hazards of his homeland in sub-tropical Africa.

“They gave me [anti-malarial] tablets I could take while I was in Gambia,’’ Nyassi said. “But, last week, I was worried it was malaria again. It’s the worst you can feel. You don’t want to do anything. You don’t feel like eating. You are sweating. You can’t sleep, because you wake up sweating.’’

Nyassi contracted the disease while playing for Gambia in an African Nations Cup qualifier against Burkina Faso in Ouagadougou. A week later, he played in the Revolution’s 1-0 win over Kansas City. By in the final game of the season, a 2-0 loss in New York, Nyassi was feeling the effects of malaria.

“Sometimes, if you get bit by a mosquito, it takes like two weeks, sometimes one month,’’ Nyassi said. “I remember getting bit by a mosquito but I didn’t think I was going to get sick. But after a week it started getting worse.’’

During the same time, Didier Drogba contracted malaria while performing for Ivory Coast and was slow to return to form for Chelsea.

Nyassi’s next scheduled trip to Africa is in late March, when Gambia meets Benin in an Olympic qualifier.

Meanwhile, the Revolution are hoping Nyassi can fulfill the promise he displayed as an 18-year-old when he joined the team. In Nyassi’s first start in 2008, he gave a devastating performance in a 3-0 victory over defending MLS Cup champion Houston, producing the goal of the week after a high-speed stepover move.

Nyassi, who also helped the Revolution win the SuperLiga title that season, is among the league’s most spectacular threats on the right wing. But he has only six goals in 81 games since that starting debut, and opposing teams have been able to neutralize him with double-teaming tactics and uncompromising physicality.

“This is a very important year for Sainey,’’ Nicol said. “The first year, it was like he’s young. The second year, he kind of did some good things. This year, he needs to step up and put it all together, to be honest.

“We’ve seen some of the things he’s capable of, but it has to be consistent. If he does that and keeps doing the stuff we know he can do — that’s part of his process, growing up and being the player he wants to be.’’

As for adjusting to the opposition, Nicol said, “He has to work it out, forget the other guy. If you’ve got somebody who’s going to stick to you, you’ve got to work out how you’re going to beat them.

“You’ve got to beat them different ways, and he’s got to work that out for himself. If I’m not getting a free kick, then I’ve got to change something. It’s up to him to work it out.’’

Nyassi is getting Nicol’s message.

“You can’t have a game like that every time,’’ Nyassi said of his ’08 debut. “But you can have consistency all the time, and my focus this year is to have a lot of consistency.

“There are different ways to survive in this game. If they take one way, you go the other way around. You pass it around. I’m working on it.’’

Nicol brought Nyassi and Kenny Mansally to the Revolution following the 2007 FIFA U20 World Cup. Now they are third in seniority on the team behind Shalrie Joseph and goalkeeper Matt Reis.

“We have to get these new guys and mix them with us and play together and make a good team,’’ Nyassi said. “The difference is, before, we used older guys. But, with Stevie, if you’re smart and wise in the game, he doesn’t care if you are young or old, he will use you.

“We’re getting better, we’re getting pace up top, everywhere, and that’s where we will improve. And, they’re bringing in names these days. I think that will help a lot, in different ways. Hopefully, the fans will come out and that will motivate us more.’’

Midfielder Marko Perovic (adductor) sat out practice yesterday and will miss the game against FC Dallas in Kissimmee. Perovic played in the first two preseason matches, but departed 18 minutes into the second half of a 2-0 win over the US Under-17 national team in Orlando Monday. “It is better to rest it and get ready for Atlanta,’’ Perovic said, talking about the Revolution’s next preseason trip, starting March 3.

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com.

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