The Vancouver Whitecaps struggled to find their footing this season, but they appear to be back on track this month, winning three out of their past four games to vault them to third in the Western Conference. Part of the reason for the resurgence has been speedy winger Kekuta Manneh.
Despite getting off to a similarly poor start to the year, Manneh has started to pick up the pace in the scoring department. With three goals and two assists this month, the future American-international has finally begun to show his talent this season. Pace and skillfulness on the ball are two of his greatest attributes, and they have been on full display recently.
He's a handful for every team, and it's no different for the Houston Dynamo. They've been weak at the full-back position this year, so they will likely struggle to hold Manneh.
Let's examine two of his best qualities:
His first goal this season came in April against FC Dallas. Here it is:
Manneh chases balls behind the defense from players like Pedro Morales all the time (there are a lot of them, as Vancouver play a route 1 strategy) and usually is able to get there first in some way or another. A lot of balls got around the Dynamo against the Chicago Fire last week. Less of a high line, more defensive marking.
This goal against Toronto FC a couple weeks ago was spectacular:
His trickiness in tight areas—especially in the box—makes him very good at cutting in and finding opportunities in more central areas. It's key for the Dynamo that they are able to play good 1v1 defense and keep him to the outside. If not, he will do things like that.
The full-backs have to be smart about when to venture up the field—because Manneh can hit you on the counter—and they have to be good about preventing him from getting the ball in dangerous areas of the field. It's not easy, but it's really important for Houston in this game.
This is an impressive player, and one that definitely has a future with the US national team once he earns citizenship. If the Dynamo can't contain him, they will allow goals and lose yet another game.