VANCOUVER, BC – There are no shortage of storylines for Saturday’s match between Vancouver Whitecaps FC and FC Dallas (7 p.m. PT at BC Place).
At the top of the list is probably the Western Conference playoff race – a quick glance at the standings will tell you as much. This could be the biggest game of the year for both sides.
Then, of course, there’s the budding rivalry between these two teams. And the fact that this will be Vancouver's first meeting with Dallas since last year’s heartbreaking and controversial playoff loss.
But there’s another reason I’m looking forward to this one.
Manneh, 20, and Castillo, 23, are both left wingers who were included in last year’s 24 under 24 list. Bet the farm they’ll be there again this year, and don't be surprised if it's near the top.
When it comes to one-v-one attacking ability, they’re among the best in MLS.
They’re also very similar players, as Carl Robinson alluded to earlier this year.
“I do liken him to Castillo at Dallas,” Robinson said of Manneh. “[Castillo] took a number of years to settle in and now he’s one of the best players in the league. It’s a similar path that [Kekuta will] follow, but he’s got to push himself.”
That made me thinking: how do the two players compare now?
Let’s take a look at their numbers this season (courtesy of Opta).
|KEKUTA MANNEH||FABIAN CASTILLO|
Shots on target
A few things stand out to me.
Castillo has a slight edge when it comes to goals and assists, but Manneh is actually ahead in a few of the more underlying stats. Notably, he’s created more chances for his teammates, has completed 145 more passes, and has 22 more tackles (which speaks to his improved defensive play this season).
On the other hand, Castillo has completed 24 more dribbles than Manneh (defined as a successful attempt by a player to beat a defender in a one-v-one situation). In fact, Castillo actually leads the league in this category, while Manneh is third. That says it all about both players' one-v-one attacking ability.
OK, so what does all this mean?
Here’s my take.
At this point in his career, Castillo looks to be a little more clinical in front of goal. He’s also more of an individual threat, as the dribbles suggest.
On the other hand, Manneh appears to be making more of an overall impact on the game – on both sides of the ball. He's also in-form at the moment, having recorded two goals and three assists in his last five matches.
So there you have it.
See who comes out on top Saturday at BC Place.
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