Twellman readies for knee surgery

TAYLOR TWELLMAN: Hurt during training TAYLOR TWELLMAN: Hurt during training
Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Frank Dell'Apa
Globe Staff / April 1, 2008

FOXBOROUGH - The Revolution's all-time leading scorer, Taylor Twellman, will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right knee this week and will miss the team's visit to Chicago Thursday.

Twellman appeared to sustain the injury during training last Thursday but he was not declared out of action until minutes before the Revolution hosted the Houston Dynamo in their MLS season opener, a 3-0 victory, Saturday night. Twellman participated in warm-ups but was replaced in the starting lineup by Adam Cristman.

Cristman scored the second goal, heading in a rebound off a free kick in the 32d minute, becoming the first Revolution forward other than Twellman to convert in an MLS game since Sept. 15.

"It is encouraging that other players scored," coach Steve Nicol said yesterday. "We are set up for Taylor to score goals and when he's scoring, it's great for us. But you like to see others get on the scoresheet. We have the ideal situation, we have four good forwards."

Steve Ralston converted in the 15th minute off a sequence involving Sainey Nyassi and Kenny Mansally, and Nyassi scored on a solo move in the final seconds of play.

Ralston (dislocated right shoulder) could miss the next three games, leading to either Mauricio Castro or Gary Flood moving into a central midfield role, or the Revolution switching to a 4-4-2 alignment. Flood replaced Ralston Saturday, joining Jeff Larentowicz in a holding role, with Joseph advancing into an attacking midfield slot.

"There is no point in making major changes," Nicol said. "We'll take our time in making a decision.

"We want to make as few changes as we can. Going 4-4-2 means a lot of changes, so it depends if we want to make a lot of changes or a few. I've never seen Castro play [in central midfield], but the Honduras manager says he can play there, so it's an option."

Castro was recruited to compete with Khano Smith as a left-side midfielder. Smith is expected to return to the team today after performing for Bermuda in a 3-1 win over the Cayman Islands in a World Cup qualifier Sunday.

The wing play of Castro and Nyassi was the most significant surprise Saturday, especially since they were expected to be in backup roles behind Smith and Wells Thompson (left heel bruise).

"As always, when we can make passes in the middle of the field, then get the ball out wide, we can stretch the [opposition] and do some damage," Nicol said. "The pleasing thing is that [Nyassi] did a great job defensively, as did Castro.

"That was always going to be the question. We knew what [Nyassi] was capable of going forward, but we didn't know if he could do the defensive stuff. But, again, it's one game and he's young player, so it's a matter of getting a level of consistency.

"He has the fitness, he wants to play and do well, and he's hungry."

Nyassi revealed yesterday he was nearly knocked unconscious after being kicked in the face by Houston's Corey Ashe early in the second half.

"I was knocked out at first, and when I was on the ground everything was rotating around," Nyassi said. "But I was all right after awhile."

Nyassi, who is 5 feet 8 inches, 135 pounds, expects extra attention from defenders in upcoming games.

"I know they are going to go at me," Nyassi said. "But, hopefully, I will keep doing the things I did in that game. Hopefully, they will give me more space, because of my speed."

Five minutes after recovering from the blow to the head, Nyassi cleared away an Eddie Robinson goal-bound shot.

"The ball was in front of the line, and I used my knee to knock it out, then Jeff [Larentowicz] headed it away," Nyassi said. "Because of the system we play, I am concentrating on defense, working on it all the time."

Nyassi started the game quickly and concluded it at full speed, converting a highlight-film goal after a couple stepover moves and a hard drive past goalkeeper Pat Onstad in the third minute of added time.

"The defender was a big guy, so I made a stepover and got him to turn," Nyassi said.

At 19, Mansally and Nyassi were the youngest opening-day starters in Revolution history. Their performances confirmed Nicol's ability to spot talent, both arriving following the Under-20 World Cup in Canada after attracting only mild interest while performing for Gambia.

And there could be more talent on the way in Nyassi's twin brother, Sanna, who also performed for Gambia's U-20 team.

"He is just like me," Sainey Nyassi said. "He is the same height and weight, has the same talent. Some MLS teams have talked to my agent about him and there is interest from [United Soccer Leagues] teams, also."

The Revolution are expected to announce the signing of midfielder Brandon Tyler to a developmental contract . . . Top draft choice Rob Valentino, recovering from knee surgery, is expected to make his Revolution debut in a reserve game at Chicago Friday.

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