SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – There certainly seems to be something about Seattle that brings the best out of Vancouver Whitecaps FC winger/striker Kekuta Manneh.
The 19-year-old once again rose to the occasion with the only goal in the 'Caps Cascadia-clinching 1-0 win against the Sounders on Friday night, and now has four goals in two matches on the road vs. the Sounders. Despite heading into the game without a goal since the start of May, his hat-trick performance from a year ago was still fresh in everyone's mind and gave the young striker the boost he needed to rediscover his goalscoring touch.
Manneh speaks to reporters after the match
"I definitely had a good feeling and it gave me a lot of confidence coming in to this game," Manneh told reporters. "Everybody was like, 'You did it last year, why can you not do it again this year?' Everybody believed in me in the locker room and I could see the support from the coaching staff and the senior players. It was really great for me, and it boosted my confidence a lot."
Why exactly Manneh seems to raise his game at CenturyLink is open to debate, but whatever it is, Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson was pleased to see lightning strike twice to keep Vancouver's postseason hopes very much alive.
"The kid was excellent," he said. "Maybe he's got to play Seattle away every time. He was electric and he had numerous chances before he scored. I felt that it was an area, without DeAndre Yedlin, that we could get at them."
It was a plan that worked to perfection, with Manneh's pace once again giving the Seattle defence a torrid time.
The winning goal came as the striker fought through the pain barrier from a knock that had seen him leave the field for treatment, but seconds after being waved back on, adrenalin and a sublime Pedro Morales pass helped the Gambian make another heroic memory.
"That was our gameplan," Manneh said. "Getting me isolated with defenders one v one, and after I had that ball, I knew it was going to be a chance and I'd either score a goal or it would be dangerous. So when I had it, I took it."
"I was in pain, but I felt that I had a chance to go and score a goal," he continued. "When I came on, I was all by myself and they played Pedro. That's one thing playing with Pedro that you've got to expect. He sees what other people don't see, and I started running because I know his qualities. So I started running and he played the ball through. It was a great pass."
The win gave Vancouver their third straight victory and kept them in pole position for the final playoff place up for grabs in the West.
"We've come together the past month," Manneh said. "It's been a solid team effort, everyone's put the effort in. We've been really unlucky with the results we've had in the past. We've played really well and were unlucky that things didn't go our way. Now things are going our way."
Participate in the best sporting experience in Vancouver! 2015 Whitecaps FC Season Tickets are on sale now. In addition to Season Tickets, Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including Half-Season Packs, 5-Packs, Student Half-Season Tickets, and a Youth Soccer Half-Season Ticket. For more information on 2015 Season Tickets, visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.