On Monday, a report was released from The Athletic’s Paul Tenorio stating Kekuta Manneh was headed back to Major League Soccer to join FC Cincinnati and the expansion club had agreed to a trade with Columbus Crew SC for the winger’s rights. On Wednesday afternoon, the Crew confirmed the deal.
In exchange for Manneh’s rights, the Black & Gold has acquired up to $400,000 in allocation money from Cincinnati. The Crew receives $250,000 in Targeted Allocation Money, $50,000 in General Allocation Money and will receive an additional $100,000 in Allocation Money ($50,000 in TAM & $50,000 in GAM) should certain performance-based conditions be met. The club did not disclose what those conditions are.
Columbus acquired Manneh from the Vancouver Whitecaps in March of 2017 in exchange for $225,000 in TAM, $75,000 in GAM and midfielder Tony Tchani. Manneh struggled early in his time with the Crew, failing to make an appearance over the first month as a part of the team. Once then-head coach Gregg Berhalter deemed the 24 year old fit, Manneh appeared in 19 games, with nine starts, scoring four goals and registering three assists. The winger also appeared in five playoff games for the Black & Gold, who reached the Eastern Conference Finals before losing 1-0 on aggregate to eventual MLS Cup champions Toronto FC.
Prior to his time in Columbus, Manneh played four full seasons for the Whitecaps where he featured 101 times, including 62 starts, scoring 22 goals and 12 assists. During that time, Manneh lived in Port Roberts, Washington, across the border from Canada, in order to become a United States citizen and be eligible for the U.S. Men’s National Team.
Following the 2017 season, the Crew offered Manneh a contract which he turned down, citing a desire for more playing time. This bonafide contract offer allowed the Black & Gold to hang on to Manneh’s rights and make this trade possible.
After trying out in Germany but failing to latch on to a club, Manneh moved on Liga MX to play for Mexican side Pachuca. In his lone season with the club, the winger appeared in just one game, playing eight minutes.
Manneh transferred to Swiss Super League club FC St. Gallen in June but only made seven appearances — the last coming in December — and failing to score a goal.
A return to MLS, where he once appeared to be a bright, up-and-coming star, could be exactly what Manneh needs to find his soccer footing again. Cincinnati should be a place where the winger can get playing time, given the expansion club’s lack of true MLS attacking options.
This deal with Cincinnati now guarantees the Crew makes its allocation money ($300,000) back from the Manneh deal with Vancouver, while potentially adding an addition $100,000. The Black & Gold may see Manneh as soon as this preseason, as Columbus faces FC Cincinnati in Feb. 23 friendly as part of the Carolina Challenge Cup.