Nyassi scores 3 times as Colorado beats Red Bulls
Sanna Nyassi scored two of his three goals in the first half to lead the Colorado Rapids to a 4-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday night.
''It was a sensational display,'' Colorado coach Gary Smith said. ''It put a bit of a smile on most people's faces.''
It was Nyassi's first three goals of the year and only the seventh time a Rapids player had scored three times in a game. Wells Thompson added a goal for Colorado (7-6-9).
The Rapids needed a scoring lift as leading scorer Conor Casey earlier in the day had surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon. Casey, the last Rapids to have a three-goal game, is expected to be sidelined for at least eight months.
''With Conor out, I knew we needed someone to step up,'' Nyassi said. ''My teammates told me it was going to be me.''
Thierry Henry scored his 10th goal of the year for New York (6-5-11), who had been blanked in its previous two games.
The Red Bulls are winless, 0-2-7 in their last nine road games.
''It was a nightmare defending in the middle of the park for us,'' said a bewildered New York coach Hans Backe. ''It is very important to block in the middle of the park and if you leave that much space for guys like Cummings and Nyassi then you will definitely be in trouble.''
The teams played to a 2-2 tie on May 25.
Colorado wasted little time opening the scoring.
Nyassi stole the inbound pass deep inside the Red Bulls' zone, took the ball right at the defense. He fired a shot past goalkeeper Frank Rost's left arm in the second minute.
The Red Bulls had several quality chances to tie the game. Midfielder Dave Richards broke free, but had his shot sail well over the crossbar in the sixth minute.
''We had a great chance by Dave right to tie the game,'' Backe said. ''Perhaps that would have changed a little bit, but we didn't show up in the first half.''
A header by Juan Agudelo was wide of its mark in the 13th minute. Goalkeeper Matt Pickens made a sliding save to deny a shot by Mehdi Ballouchy in the 23rd minute.
Colorado blew the game open after these missed opportunities.
Nyassi hit the left post from 35 yards out, but Thompson ran down the loose ball and beat Rost from close range in the 26th minute.
Nyassi slid between two New York defenders and crossed the ball over to his left foot to set up his second score. Rost couldn't stop Nyassi's left-footed shot from inside the box in the 30th minute.
''I can't remember the last time I had three goals,'' Nyassi said. ''Maybe, it was at a very young age.''
Pickens caught a free kick by midfielder Dax McCarty in the 60th minute. Less than a minute later, Nyassi beat Rost again to make it 4-0.
Henry ruined Pickens' shutout bid in the 67th minute. Agudelo fed Henry slicing between defenders for the goal.
A win would have moved the Red Bulls ahead of idle Philadelphia for the lead in the Eastern Conference.
''We haven't beaten any of the top three teams in either conference,'' said Smith. ''To beat New York in an emphatic fashion was just incredible.''