Vancouver Whitecaps should start Manneh
Vancouver Whitecaps forward Kekuta Manneh (left) attempts to move the ball defended by Chivas USA midfielder Eric Avila in a March game. Manneh scored to salvage a tie for the Whitecaps. (REUTERS)
The question on the minds of many local soccer fans leading up to the Vancouver Whitecaps FC match against Real Salt Lake on Saturday is should Kekuta Manneh be in the starting lineup?
Twice in 2014, Manneh has come on as a substitute to save the Whitecaps from losing. Against Chivas USA, the talented young Gambian scored in the 60th minute to salvage a draw for Vancouver. He also subbed into the second half against the L.A. Galaxy this past weekend to once again help give Vancouver a point.
In seven matches this season, Manneh has started one match. He didn’t score, but forced the goalkeeper to make two saves on three shots.
Digging into the statistics, the time might be right for the 19-year-old to shine in a starting role. Through Manneh’s brief Major League Soccer career, with just 27 matches to his credit, Manneh has started seven times, scoring four goals, including a hat trick, and adding one assist.
In 20 substitute appearances for the Whitecaps, the winger has tallied four goals and added an assist.
As a starting player, Manneh scores a goal for the Whitecaps every 128 minutes, not that different from every 131 minutes as a substitute.
The Whitecaps have a record of three wins, two losses and two draws when Manneh starts. When playing as a sub, the ‘Caps have managed five wins, nine losses and six draws.
It’s easy to think about Manneh entering a game late with one simple idea, get a goal for the team to either salvage a point or even a win. At this point in Manneh’s career, he’s been billed as a super sub, using his speed and an attacking mindset when needing a result, but it hasn’t worked as often as one might think.
In his 20 substitute appearances, he’s only managed to score two game-tying goals, while adding a goal and an assist in another to secure a single point. In fact, of the five wins he’s been involved in as a substitute, he’s only added one insurance goal to an already establish lead, hardly the super sub that we’ve heard so much about.
Manneh has definitely shown flashes of brilliance and energized the crowd, but his future and greatest worth needs to be in a starting role. Vancouver need goal-scoring help, and Manneh is the tonic they require.