VANCOUVER, BC – Major League Soccer (MLS) announced today that Vancouver Whitecaps FC striker Kekuta Manneh has been named the league's Player of the Week for Week 33. Manneh receives the award after scoring three goals for the 'Caps in a 4-1 win over arch-rivals Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field this past Wednesday. The hat-trick was the first ever by a Whitecaps FC player in MLS, while the 18-year-old also became the youngest player in league history to score three goals in a match.
Vancouver lead MLS with six Player of the Week awards this season. Last week, Camilo Sanvezzo took home the honour for the third time this season - the most among any player in the league. Striker Kenny Miller was named Player of the Week in Week 16 before Camilo’s first award of the season came in Week 17, followed by goalkeeper Brad Knighton collecting the prize in Week 19, and then Camilo again in Week 20.
With the 'Caps playoff hopes hanging in the balance, Manneh earned the start up front alongside Camilo. The Gambian responded in fine style, more than doubling his previous count of two goals on the season heading into the match. The opening tally came on 12 minutes as midfielder Daigo Kobayashi headed the youngster in on a breakaway, which he calmy finished to make it 1-0. Just before halftime he had his second off another breakaway, which followed a slick passing sequence from Young-Pyo Lee, to Camilo, to Manneh. The rookie's historic hat-trick was finished off on 54 minutes through a pretty one-two play with Kobayashi.
The 4-1 win over Seattle helped propel Whitecaps FC towards winning the 2013 Cascadia Cup - which they officially earned on Sunday by virtue of Portland Timbers 1-0 win over Seattle. This year's Cascadia Cup title is a record fourth for the 'Caps, which is the most among the three clubs as Seattle and Portland have each won the Cascadia Cup three times.
Whitecaps FC now turn their attention to back-to-back matches against Colorado Rapids, whom they're chasing for the fifth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. First up is a match in Colorado at Dick's Sporting Goods Park this coming Saturday, October 19. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. PT and will be broadcast live on Sportsnet ONE and TEAM 1410 radio. The 'Caps and Rapids then wrap-up the regular season on Sunday, October 27, as Whitecaps FC hold Fan Appreciation night at BC Place. Tickets remain available at ticketmaster.ca/whitecapsfc.
The MLS Player of the Week is selected each week of the regular season by a panel of journalists from NASR. The group consists of members of print, television, radio and online media. More information and membership information can be found at soccerreporters.com.