The 19-year-old Gambian came up with a vital late goal to ensure the Vancouver Whitecaps picked up a point against the visiting LA Galaxy on Sunday.
That was the halftime move from Vancouver Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson in Saturday's 2-2 draw with the LA Galaxy, and it ultimately paid off as substitute Kekuta Manneh came up with the game-tying goal in the 86th minute, picking the bottom right corner of Jaime Penedo's goal from outside the box.
“I made a tactical switch to inject a little bit of life with the kid coming on, Kekuta, who I toyed with the idea of playing with from the start,” Robinson said. “Maybe me, being a young head coach thought, is it better to be in the game and then unleash the young 'un, but I made the decision at halftime obviously with him.”
That move, paired with the introduction of fellow speedster Erik Hurtado in the 64th minute, appeared to unsettle a Galaxy team that had looked fairly comfortable in possession until that point.
“Erik was great, he really was,” Robinson said. “He's been training very well over the last two, three weeks. From where he was last year to where he is, I think it's night and day for the kid. If he continues to push, he'll get plenty of opportunities.”
MATCH REPORT: Vancouver Whitecaps 2-2 Los Angeles Galaxy
Additionally, Robinson stated he was pleased that despite his side's slow start to proceedings, his charges were able to come back from two separate deficits within the game, first through Darren Mattocks, before Manneh's late marker.
“I'm sick of the sight of Robbie in the last two weeks,” Robinson told reporters when asked about Robbie Keane's 77th minute go-ahead goal. “I really am. But, it's more about the character my team showed today. A young group of players that not only got kicked in the backside once to go one down, but got kicked in the backside twice to go 2-1 down, but still didn't give up.”
The Whitecaps now sit at 2-2-3 after Saturday's draw, and will play on the road at Rio Tinto Stadium against Real Salt Lake next weekend.
“It's a tough game against a very good team,” Robinson said. “They've been together as well for a long time ... it's a very difficult game, but it's a good test for my young group.”