Columbus Crew SC and the Vancouver Whitecaps made waves on Thursday afternoon with a blockbuster trade. This deal saw Vancouver acquire midfielder Tony Tchani and allocation money in exchange for forward Kekuta Manneh. This move finally puts an end to the questions that have long surrounded the status of chani. However, many fans still have a question.
Who is Kekuta Manneh?
Manneh is a 22-year-old forward from Bakau, Gambia. He is widely regarded as one of the most dynamic and exciting young players in Major League Soccer. Manneh was hampered by injuries in 2016, but enjoyed success in his time with the Whitecaps as he has scored 22 goals and picked up 12 assists in his five years of MLS play. Manneh has twice been called into international duty with the Gambian U-20s, but has aspirations of playing for the United States.
Born in Gambia, Manneh moved to the United States as a teenager. It wasn’t until this past January that he gained full U.S. citizenship, making him eligible for selection by Bruce Arena. He was invited into January camp, but he could not suit up for the team until he receives a waiver from FIFA since he was previously called in by his home country of Gambia.
Head coach Gregg Berhalter expressed his excitement this afternoon in a conference call with the media. On the call Berhalter emphasized that he was excited with Manneh’s versatility. He also expressed delight at what he learned of Manneh as a person.
“Great individual...in doing research no one had a bad thing to say about him,” Berhalter said. “He is a great kid, a hard worker, and someone who wants to take his game to the next level.”
Where Manneh fits in will be interesting to watch in the weeks to come. For the Whitecaps, Manneh primarily operated on the left wing, the spot typically occupied by Justin Meram for Crew SC.
It’s the versatility though that Berhalter mentioned multiple times, believing he can play at any of the front three or even as a second forward.
There is a potential role that fans will see Manneh occasionally in that second striker role this season as he has seen time at that role in Vancouver. For the Black & Gold, that could really bolster an already potent attack with the likes of Ola Kamara, Federico Higuain, and Meram. Berhalter said that the team “can never have too many weapons” and expects Manneh to challenge for minutes immediately. He also went on to say there is a chance fans could see him as early as Saturday against Orlando City.
Does this help clear up any questions you had on Manneh? What do you think of the move? Does improve Crew SC?
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