Until last March, the Vancouver Whitecaps were the only Major League Soccer team Kekuta Manneh had ever played for.
Six months after the trade that sent him to Columbus Crew SC the 22-year-old winger will face his former club for the first time this Saturday as the Black & Gold plays against the Whitecaps at the BC Place.
Manneh is obviously excited to return to the place where he lived and played between 2013 and 2017. However, the Gambian assures he will not take extra motivation to the field as he faces the team that traded him just two months after he was part of the United States Men’s National Team January camp.
“I’m not a guy to do that,” he said. “It’s a business in the end of the day. It happens and we have to move on. I’m a Columbus Crew player and I’m going to prepare as I prepare for other games. If I get a chance to help the team to win the match, that will be great.
“It’s not about me, it’s about the team. We are fighting for the playoffs and I can’t take that game as an individual. If we can keep doing what we’ve been doing, hopefully we can win the game.”
The opportunity of meeting friends and playing in front of his old fan base, though, are much welcomed by Manneh. The winger still has built several memories from his four and half years in Vancouver and is looking forward to relive them, now in a Crew SC uniform.
“I have some friends in the city and I will catch up with them if I have time,” Manneh told Massive Report. “But the fans are what get me more excited about going back to Vancouver. I think the Whitecaps have the best fans in the league. In the almost five years I’ve been there I cannot remember of a single time where they didn’t push us. I can’t wait to be in that environment again.”
As a former Whitecap, Manneh does not hesitate on pointing to the Canadians biggest strength. According to him, Crew SC needs to be aware and ready to deal with their efficient transition game, something Manneh was a part of during his time in the Pacific Northwest.
“It will be interesting, I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “Their counter attack is dangerous. They are a very good team going forward. It’s difficult sometimes to contain them because of the firepower they have and the quality of their attacking players. They can run off the ball, they can play with the ball, so it’s difficult”.
The match in Vancouver could be a good opportunity for Manneh to show his best game and give head coach Gregg Berhalter some questions going forward as his current contract expires in the end of the season.
Standing behind Pedro Santos and Justin Meram in the starting wing roles, the Gambian has recorded three goals and two assists in 14 games with Crew SC since the trade last spring.