By acquiring Kekuta Manneh, Crew SC added some serious acceleration to its roster. In fact — according to the world's best-selling console video game, FIFA 17 — Manneh is rated as the fastest player in Major League Soccer.
The video-game version of the speedy dribbler ranks among the world's fastest, beating the likes of Paris-St. Germain's Lucas, Barcelona's Jordi Alba and Manchester City's Raheem Sterling. His 94 pace rating equals Real Madrid's Gareth Bale and Atlanta United's Hector Villalba.
The 22-year-old midfielder, born in Gambia but receiving his U.S. citizenship in January, has been buzzworthy since entering the U.S. soccer sphere. Despite his youth, Manneh is an veteran of MLS with 101 appearances, 22 goals and 12 assists — all with the Vancouver Whitecaps. He's a three-time MLSsoccer.com 24 Under 24 honoree, having ranked 12th in 2014, second in 2015 and fifth in 2016.
Coming in hot for 2017, U.S. Soccer head coach Bruce Arena named Manneh to his 2017 January Camp roster but Manneh has yet to receive his first official cap with the Yanks after leaving the camp to join Vancouver's preseason camp.
In January, Arena said: “He's a good young player. He’s returning from an injury so I don’t think we’re going to expect too much from him early. Hopefully he can get through the next week healthy and start showing what he’s capable of doing.”
What the technical staffers say, per 24 Under 24:
"Maybe the fastest player in the league. My guess is if you asked every technical director or general manager, they would take a run at trying to trade for him. At his age, with the pace he has, he's an absolute menace."
"Any time we play Vancouver, one of the first things we talk about is making sure that we respect the pace of Manneh. If he gets his citizenship ... he'd be a write-in guy for me."
"He's still very temperamental. Sometimes that's what the game is all about, but I think more than anything else he needs to control that for 90 minutes, every game."
"... There's not too many people with his profile. He's effective because he's so dangerous on the dribble, 1-v-1. He can create on his own. You can put him on a poor team, and he'd still be effective. He needs to receive balls in areas of the field where he can be effective."
Manneh began his professional career in his native country of The Gambia in 2009 for Steve Biko FC, scoring 17 goals in 12 matches. After migrating to the United States in 2010, Manneh played for former Crew SC USL-affiliate the Austin Aztex when they played in the USL PDL in 2012.