As promised yesterday when I posted my first impressions of trialists Marko Perovic, Gareth Williams and Andres Raad, I wanted to dedicate a similar post to Senegalese midfielder Joseph Niouky. Of course, the main difference here is that while the three trialists are only potential signings, Niouky’s name is already signed on the dotted line and he is an official member of the Revoution’s roster.
After taking a knock to his ankle/shin yesterday (which forced him to miss the second half of the session), he was back on the field today and didn’t show any signs of the injury. So right from the outset is appears as if toughness shouldn’t be an issue with the 23-year-old.
With a preseason match against the Charlotte Eagles on tap for tomorrow evening, the Revs went through their typical day-before-a-game training routine today. Essentially, that means that today’s session consisted almost entirely of a full-field, 11 vs. 11 scrimmage. And what better way to get a feel for a player – other than to see him on the field in an actual game – than a full-field scrimmage.
Admittedly, it took a bit for Niouky to get himself involved in the game, and his touches were limited for the opening 20 minutes of the 30-minute match. It was understandable considering he played in central midfield alongside Shalrie Joseph, as much of the play went through the 2009 MLS MVP finalist.
Eventually Niouky did seem to settle in, however, and the rate of his touches noticeably rose in the final 10 minutes. He began showing and calling for the ball a bit more as his comfort level increased, and he worked himself into the game.
Once he began getting consistent touches, it became clear that Head Coach Steve Nicol’s prior assessment of the player was very true. Nicol said this of Niouky two weeks ago …
“He likes to keep the ball and pass the ball. That’s the main thing. He likes to get the ball at his feet and he likes to keep it.”
A possession-oriented player, Niouky’s head popped up to look for an open teammate every time the ball was at his feet, and he never stayed in possession of the ball for more than a second or two. He was always looking to keep the ball moving and switch the point of attack, and more importantly he didn’t make any simple turnovers. Many of the passes he completed were “safe” passes either square to a fellow midfielder or back to a defender.
Of course, it’s important to remember that these impressions are from one day (and his first full day at that) of training. Whether the possession-oriented style Niouky played today is typical of his game will only be known after more time and opportunities to see him play.
One of those opportunities will come tomorrow night at 6 p.m., when the Revs suit up against the Charlotte Eagles at Transamerica Field on the campus of UNC-Charlotte. Not only will we get to see Niouky alongside his new teammates, but we could also get a glimpse of the trio of trialists in action.
We’ll have full coverage of that game tomorrow night, and you can follow along during the game on Twitter and right here on the official blog. Later this afternoon, I’ll have a preview of tomorrow’s match up on the main site, so be sure to check back for that.