Kekuta Manneh will be taking his talents south of the border in 2018.
The 22-year-old attacking winger is joining Pachuca in Liga MX, the club announced Tuesday. This after spending most of the 2017 season with Columbus Crew SC after coming to them in a trade with the Vancouver Whitecaps in March.
— Club Pachuca (@Tuzos) December 26, 2017
— Kekuta Manneh (@kekuta16) December 27, 2017
Kekuta Manneh To Join Liga MX Side Pachuca
Manneh made 19 appearances for the Black and Gold last year, including nine starts. He tallied four goals and three assists in 838 minutes of action. In addition, he played in all five games of the club’s run to the Eastern Conference finals, coming off the bench in each match.
Prior to his time in Columbus, Manneh spent five seasons with the Vancouver Whitecaps. His most prolific campaign came in 2015 when he registered seven goals, good enough for second best on the team. He also added a team leading six assists as the ‘Caps finished with the Western Conference’s second best record.
Manneh was born in Gambia and played professionally there before emigrating to the United States. He acquired U.S. citizenship in September 2016 and received a call-up to the USMNT for its January camp this year. He’ll have company on Pachuca’s squad with center back Omar Gonzalez boasting extensive international experience with the Stars and Stripes.
What It Means
The writing appeared to be on the wall with respect to Manneh’s future with Crew SC. Already out of contract, he went on trial with Union Berlin in the German second division after the club’s postseason run came to an end. Not long thereafter, rumors about Pachuca’s interest began to circulate. It culminated in Tuesday’s news with him signing ahead of their Clausura campaign in 2018.
Truth be told, Manneh never really garnered consistent starter minutes under manager Gregg Berhalter. His ability to do so became further restricted when the club signed Pedro Santos during the summer transfer window. The young wide attacker wasn’t shy about advocating his desire to explore options outside MLS at season’s end. And Berhalter himself was open in encouraging him to do what he felt was best for his career.
Though the move makes Columbus a bit less deep at winger for the time being, the team is dead set from the standpoint of their starters. Santos and Justin Meram remain the go-to players on the wings in Berhalter’s 4-2-3-1. The club also brought in reinforcements by trading for Mike Grella, whom the Colorado Rapids claimed in the Re-Entry Draft. Not only that, Niko Hansen showed some promise during his rookie year and is an intriguing rotational piece as he continues to develop.
Photo credit: Columbus Crew SC Communications