Kekuta Manneh is arguably the biggest reason why the Vancouver Whitecaps have returned to contending. In his past five matches, the left sided winger has scored two goals and added two assists. In those five games, the Whitecaps are 3-1-1, with the three wins coming in matches where Manneh contributed to a goal.
So you see, he’s kind of a big deal.
Just 21 years old and from the small African Nation of Gambia, Kekuta Manneh has now scored twenty goals in just under 100 appearances for the Whitecaps and he has established himself as a premier talent in MLS. His speed and creativity make him a constant threat on the left side and, as we have seen lately, most MLS defenses don’t know how to deal with him. Not even Toronto, who boast arguably the best defense in MLS, could stop him from scoring twice and assisting once to account for three of Vancouver’s four goals.
Talent like that doesn’t just stop at the club level, however. Manneh is destined for more. Although, being of Gambian descent, international glory was never really in his future. So Manneh made his path clear. He wanted to play for the United States.
“We’ve just confirmed that I have all the days that I need to apply. We’re just waiting for all the paperwork to be done and then I apply and then have to wait for the announcement. September is the timeframe it will come out if I apply now,” Manneh said, in reaction to his pending U.S. Citizenship.
While nothing is a given in Jurgen Klinsmann’s United States side, Manneh is pretty close. The United States boasts considerable speed at full back and Gyasi Zardes and Bobby Wood provide interesting wide options, but in terms of bonafide wide attackers, there just are not that many in the red, white and blue camp.
That is where Manneh would fit in. Against Toronto, the wide attacker made a killing sitting in as a second striker and terrorizing the right two defenders. He was quite literally unstoppable.
At just 21 years of age, Manneh is actually shaping up to be a big part of United States’ soccer going forward. He is coming in at that golden age where Jordan Morris, Christian Pulisic, Julian Green and more are all starting to make their claim. While Manneh will not be in the picture for the Copa America Centenario, you can bet that come World Cup 2018, he will be lined up out wide, feeding balls into Morris.