Pachuca’s new signing is Kekuta Manneh from the Columbus Crew in Major League Soccer (MLS). Not only is this their new signing, they got him on a free transfer. How did Pachuca get him on a free?
Let’s start at the beginning. Kekuta Manneh is from the country of The Gambia. He came to the United States in 2010 and was adopted by Eric and LaRhonda Niccum. LaRhonda was the team manager for the youth team Houston Rush. At this time Manneh was 15 years old. He represented himself well with the Houston Rush, he scored 35 goals in 23 matches. From the Houston Rush, Manneh moved to the Lonestar SC and scored 21 goals in 15 matches. As one can surmise, Manneh had a penchant for scoring goals.
In January of 2013, Manneh was selected fourth overall by the Vancouver Whitecaps in the MLS SuperDraft. While with the Whitecaps he showed progress developing as a player. He utilized his speed and played mostly on the left wing as he likes to cut in. Even though he played well in spurts he was inconsistent as he was still developing as a player. In the 2016 season, he was out for approximately five months due to injury and missed 19 matches. This injury one could say was the culprit of the trade to take place in 2017.
In March of 2017, Manneh was traded to the Columbus Crew for Tony Tchani and $225,000 in Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) and $75,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM). Please note that TAM is to be used by the MLS team to help the team buy or retain a player that might have a salary between $480,625 and $1,000,000 with the amount over $480,625 to not count against the salary cap. GAM is money to be used anywhere on the roster. Even though the Crew traded for Manneh, his contract was up at the end of the 2017 season. This could have been one of the reasons why the Whitecaps were willing to trade to him as they were not able to come to an agreement on a new contract.
While with the Crew, he mostly came off the bench and was used all over the field from Left Wing to Right Wing to Central Attacking Midfielder to a Center Forward. He could not quite find his footing there. The Columbus Crew has depth at the positions that Manneh would normally play at. He is quoted as saying, “There’s some really, really good players here,” Manneh said of Columbus. “Competition for places is tough. It’s good football for development, but I don’t want to put myself in that situation. I’m 22 years old. I need to play week in, week out. I can’t be in an environment where I’m left frustrated,” he continued. “I love this game way too much. Even if I have to go a step down to be able to get regular minutes, be happy week in, week out, this game makes me happy. It’s definitely something I will consider making my decision. I need to be in an environment where I need to play week in, week out like Vancouver.
I want to be playing. I don’t know. It’s tough. Having Justin having a great year, a really good player as well. Pedro being a DP, a really good player as well. It is tough, but you always want to keep all your options open.” These quotes are from this article. Kekuta Manneh faces a big offseason-decision Click on the link to read more of the story.
On December 26th, Manneh decided to sign with Liga MX side Pachuca instead of resigning with the Columbus Crew. He did have a trail with German side Union Berlin earlier in the month but nothing materialized from it. Why did Pachuca decide to sign him? Pachuca has missed the playoffs the last two tournaments. Liga MX has split seasons or tournaments called the Apertura and Clausura instead of one long season.
Pachuca most likely signed him for depth purposes and an option off of the bench that will be a change of pace. Considering at the beginning of the season they were considered title contenders, especially coming off of the 2016 Clausura championship, this year was a disappointment. For Manneh being a part of that depth could become a valuable commodity for Pachuca since one of the biggest reasons they did not make the playoffs in 2017 was due to numerous injuries. This could mean quite a bit of playing time for Manneh. In the end, moving to Pachuca might provide the playing time he was looking for.