Manneh the difference in Whitecaps comeback

The 18 year old came on as a substitute with his side down by two goals, and made the most of his chance, scoring a goal before setting up the equalizer.
VANCOUVER – Rookie substitute Kekuta Manneh made the most of his opportunity on Saturday, pulling the Vancouver Whitecaps out of a two-goal hole to salvage a 2-2 draw against FC Dallas.

The 18 year old Gambian got the comeback going with a cracking 72nd minute strike which followed a fine save from Raul Fernandez just seconds before. Tom Heinemann then tried to make contact with the ball but it took a deflection into the path of Manneh, who reacted quickly to get his side back in the match.

“It always feels good to score, especially with my first professional goal,” Manneh said at BC Place after the game. “It was a tough situation. We were down two goals and we needed a goal.”

Manneh didn’t stop there though – the speedster accelerated past three Dallas defenders three minutes later, before sending a ball across the area, which Camilo reacted well to, striking a ball which bounced off Jair Benitez before crossing the goal line – that cancelled out a first half own goal from Andy O’Brien and a 47th minute marker from Matt Hedges.

“Kekuta is 18 years old,” head coach Rennie said. “He has incredible potential to be a very, very, very good player, and today he showed that.”

The player himself hinted his performance was partially motivated by a fear that the failure to make an impact could lead to a return to reserve football – where he found himself after Rennie unceremoniously substituted him at the half on opening day against Toronto FC.

“It affected me a little bit,” Manneh said of that substitution on opening day. “But the mentality was to come and perform. I know if I don’t play there’s lot of players. If I don’t perform there’s lot of players on the bench, so I probably wouldn’t play for a while.

“It was in my head to give my all and everything I have.”

With the draw, the Whitecaps are now 2-3-3, and square up against FC Edmonton on Wednesday in the second leg of their Canadian Championship semifinal tie, which they lead 3-2 on aggregate.