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Kekuta Manneh one step closer to USMNT eligibility

Photo by Russ Isabella/USA TODAY Sports

Kekuta Manneh has taken a long road towards achieving his dream of representing the U.S. Men’s National Team, and the Vancouver Whitecaps forward recently took a major step forward in that pursuit.

Speaking to, Manneh revealed that he is now eligible to apply for a U.S. passport. Once approved, Manneh would be eligible to represent the U.S. internationally following a process that has been several years in the making.

“I actually just finished all of my days,” Manneh told MLS. “I’m really excited about how the whole process went and now we’re finally there.

“It would mean a lot. My family, they live in Texas, and they’ve been very proud and very supportive of me throughout my career. Since I’ve lived with them, I remember the first time I asked mom to buy cleats and she said ‘Let’s go to the store and buy cleats’. They’ve been supporting me throughout my career and it would mean a lot to represent the country that they were from and I’d be very proud to do that.”

Manneh’s journey began in Gambia, where he was born and raised before moving to the U.S. in 2010. Drafted fourth overall by the Whitecaps in 2013, Manneh has since commuted to Canada from Point Roberts, Washington in order to fulfill requirements to obtain his U.S. citizenship.

The 21-year-old says he believes he can help the USMNT as either a forward or a left midfielder, with the latter proving to be his main position on the club level. The Whitecaps star is currently riding a bit of hot form, with two goals and two assists in his past two games.

“I have talked to Jurgen (Klinsmann). He’s kept in contact once in awhile and I’ve called him once in awhile,” Manneh said. “He kept me on my toes and told me that they’re interested. That’s really exciting to know.

“He says to just think I’m a good player and keep doing what I’m doing. At the moment, I’m on the right path, so it’s just doing what I’m doing and improving every week, week by week.”

While it may take several months for Manneh’s status to clear, the forward is excited to be one step closer to achieving his dream of representing the U.S. on the game’s biggest stage.

“It would mean a lot. Every soccer player wants to play for their nation, and if I could get that opportunity, it would mean the world to me,” Manneh said. “I’ve always wanted to play in a World Cup. I remember watching the World Cup, sitting there and thinking how it would be if I was there. I remember watching Germany in the World Cup final and I wanted to be playing in this game. Being there would be very exciting and all of my dreams would come true.”


  1. Mahna Mahna
    Do doo be-do-do
    Mahna Mahna
    Do do-do do
    Mahna Mahna
    Do doo be-do-do be-do-do be-do-do be-do-do-doodle do do do-doo do!

  2. There is no threshold at which virtue-signaling internet posters would refuse a player for the national team. Eventually, nodding on cue will be unquestionable proof of loyalty and patriotism. “I could see in his eyes as he was asked to play for the USMNT that he was a True American after all.”

    The player pool has radically shifted, demographically, in the past 25 years. What’s amazing though is that despite reaching far and wide, the USMNT is really no better off for it. They have recruited dual-nationals liberally at the expense of the unasterisked Americans (and make no mistake, it is a zero-sum game). For what end, exactly? The team still sweats out hexagonal qualifiers, USA is still a #3 seed in World Cups. The national team has not overtaken Mexico, despite that country declining to aggressively import so many citizens of the world.

    At what point will a roster completely comprised of foreign-born transplants no longer resonate with its fanbase? At that point, maybe they can just import new fans.

    • Interesting point. Do you think other countries reject foreign-born players who are eligible for their national team out of fear of alienating their fan base?

      • If the players are good enough they are brought into the fold. Period. Don’t feed this dude’s weird narrative.

      • I don’t really think that the fans play much of a role at all. That line was just a thought experiment: suppose the Japanese immediately introduced a few hundred Nigerians into their player pool, and those naturalized Nigerians quickly assumed a majority of the roster spots. Would the Japanese public support such a team? Try swapping out countries where nationality still corresponds to a physical phenotype.

        I do believe that there is a psychological aspect playing into these types of decisions at an administrative level. It is observable almost only in Western countries, but not in all of them. France’s roster has been half-comprised of Africans for decades, while neighboring Spain features none. The reasons why are complex. On the other hand, some countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar have no qualms about proactively recruiting foreign athletes to replace their native players.

        Globalisation, ease of travel, and the international game will ensure that every country will eventually be represented by some of the more ‘tenuously connected’ dual citizens. But to overhaul the player pool in such a short time, as is the case of the USMNT, requires a concerted effort.

      • “The reasons why are complex.” No, actually the reasons are very simple. If Spain had colonized a good portion of Africa, you would see more Africans on their squad. If Mexico was nicknamed “The Melting Pot,” they would have lots of different colors on their team. If you ask me (you didn’t), I would say that our national team should have lots of different types on the team (as it does) in order to truly represent our country. For better or for worse, the players on our team largely tell the story of the culture of our citizenry.

      • Don – the USMNT is not supposed to be a demographic representation of our country. It’s supposed to be the best players – if that’s 11 white guys, 11 hispanics, 11 black guys, 11 Asian-Americans, or more likely some combination. Whether that should include players who technically qualify but in reality have little connection to the country they are going to represent and have never lived here is what we’re really discussing.

      • slow – Our country happens to be very active on a global scale. Our presence in Germany means we have citizens there. It doesn’t really matter if they’ve ever lived here — like you said, they are some of the best American players. I somewhat agree with your stance seeing as how they are not products of the US Soccer system, but that really doesn’t matter when it comes down to it. They are American and they are in the top pool of American soccer players. Therefore, they are eligible. Cultural demographics are very much a part of it because that explains where the pool comes from. We happen to have an extremely diverse pool of players that includes people who might not have ever lived in our country. Again, the reason for that is due to our global culture and society.

      • Slow- you say the NT should be the best 11. Regardless of race, skin color etc right? So then when don lamb clearly lays out how your view is hypocritical by saying “They are American and they are in the top pool of American soccer players. “, can you still not see your perspective’s catch-22?

        If you are fine with a mixed group of players representing us then the only prerequisite should be the countries own rules for citizenship right? So if a serviceman, perhaps grew up in America, fought in a war for the country, remained in that country to serve, fell in love and had a child then that’s cool but to you that child isn’t America enough?

        Like I’ve said before, walk up to any American serviceman around the world and tell him you don’t think his child is American enough for you if they didn’t live in America for X years.

        Let me know how that works out for you…


      • Slow’s argument is that they should not play for the US if they have never been a part of soccer in the US. I don’t think it has anything to do with how “American” a person is, but strictly where they developed as a soccer player for Slow. I can totally sympathize with that position (as do people like Bruce Arena), but I am not going to root any less for the team or look at certain players with an asterisk if they do choose the US as a dual national. It does, however, shed some light on the level of player development as compared to other countries, but that is not a dual-national’s problem to worry about. If he/she chooses the US, bring it! It won’t affect my fandom although it might affect my pride from a player development standpoint.

    • The Constitution and US laws passed by Congress determine who is a citizen and who isn’t. What makes anyone here think that someone who is eligible to vote and run for public office in this country is somehow a second class citizen who shouldn’t be allowed to play soccer for the US? The US is based on the concept of equality under the law. As someone who has devoted much of my life to studying and being a part of government, it annoys me how many people seem to ignore basic tenets of our country such as this or innocent until proven guilty. I guess this is one reason why people who are demogagues who scapegoat different classes of people have become popular.

      • The constitution has been amended many times. Laws stay on the books past their relevancy. Very often, changes are made without a popular vote, maybe even by only nine unelected judges. This is why I hate that line of reasoning, that some abstract proposition is moral and just because it’s the law. If the branches of government put their heads together and declare a moratorium on immigration, suddenly your high horse gets pulled out from under you, and immigrant teenagers no longer magically become American after living out the countdown clock here.

      • Buffon–so you don’t think all people should be the same under the law and we should have different classes of citizenship? These are basic concepts of democracies. You can believe in democracy or not. If you do, then anyone who is good enough and is a citizen has the right to play for the national team. It would seem that you don’t believe in democracy.

    • “Asterisk Americans” is a fabrication of your own making.There is no distinction made between one citizen and another nor their rights and priveledges as US citizens. That you don’t see progress in the game in this country is telling as is your desire to return to “the good ol’ days” of a pool of players pulled from the college ranks and of a “demographic” lol… that you were more comfortable with.

  3. *Sitting back, enjoying the nice conversation without that xenophobe who’s usually on here barking about nationality situations like this*

  4. With the emergence of a number of players able to play as wide midfielders and/or wide forwards we really need to look at transitioning towards either a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1 formation on a more consistent basis. It may also force JK to use Fabian as a LB unless someone steps up to solidify that position soon. I think we could see something like the following in the not to distant future:


    Bench: 3-Keepers, Villareal/Shea, Besler, Birnbaum/Miazga, RB-TBD, Kitchen, Lleget, Gyau, Finlay, Jozy/Agudelo/Johannsson,

    • I agree with your formation, but I think it might be a little early to pencil Manneh in as the starter. He’s hot this week because he’s the MLS Player of the Week, but he hasn’t had a very good season up until that game. His player rating according to whoscored (take with a grain of salt) is lower than Justin Meram, Tommy McNamara, Chris Pontius, Graham Zuis, and Mike Grella for LMs although he has been better when playing LAM as in your formations.

      • I didn’t intend for it to come across as penciling him in as the starter….just trying to convey the possibilities that we could be looking at in the not to distant future. There are still a lot of things that could happen between then and now, but the number of up and coming young players who are on the cusp of making a real impact for the USMNT gives me hope that we are finally turning the corner.
        Attack: Pulisic, Morris, Menneh, Rubin, Kiessewetter, Arriola, Perez, Lennon, Gooch
        Midfied: Nagbe, Lleget, Gyau, Hyndman, Stanko, Canouse, Zelalem, Scott,
        Defense: Yedlin, Brooks, Miazga, Carter-Vickers, Alvarado, Palmer-Brown, Payne, Acosta, Olosunde,

        It may take a couple years for some of these players to really become integrated into the team but some are already making their way into contention.

      • To your point Rubin with an assist today. I’d throw in Haji Wright he has 5 goals in 5 games with Schalke’s U19.

      • “…up and coming young players who are on the cusp of making a real impact for the USMNT gives me hope that we are finally turning the corner.
        Attack: Pulisic, Morris, Menneh, Rubin, Kiessewetter, Arriola, Perez, Lennon, …”

        We thank you for acknowledging out firm partner 🙂

    • We have had this situation for a while now–more good midfielders than strikers. Maybe we do need to go with a 4-5-1 or variation like 4-2-3-1. Depends on how well the young guys like Wood and Morris or maybe Zardes develop.

  5. I know it shows a 18-21 year old has a bigger commitment living in Point Roberts than in downtown Vancouver, but its not like a lot of MLS players don’t have long commutes to their training facility or stadium.

  6. kid is the real deal! terrifying speed and good touch too, I can see him being very useful.

    “Manneh has since commuted to Canada from Point Roberts, Washington in order to fulfill requirements to obtain his U.S. citizenship.” –> perfect example of commitment! and MLS’ wonderful cooperation!

  7. If you’re willing to live in Point Roberts just to maintain your residency requirements, I’d say you’re pretty committed to the red. white and blue.

  8. Kekuta Manneh, what a wonderful phrase
    Kekuta Manneh, ain’t no passing craze
    It means goal scoring for the rest of your days

    • This is a little different than some of the passport Americans JK recruited who’d barely set foot here. He moved here when he was 15 and has lived here since. I don’t see a problem with it although I also wouldn’t see a problem with him playing for Gambia either. Presumably he wants to play in world cups so I don’t think Gambia is going to happen though.

      • To our resident xenophobe:

        “It’s just that I told them I need a bit of time,” Jermaine Jones said. “They always send me an invitation (United States) every game they have. My response has been the same: I need options. I need to get my passport and then decide what I need to do, if I want to play for United States or for Germany. I need to see what the right fit is for me, so that’s the delay for me.

        “That’s why I haven’t really made my decision, but it would be an honor for me to play for either of those teams. It’s the national team. Everybody wants to represent it, but either of those would be great. I think it would be silly on my part to rush right now and go and play for United States when I can have a chance to play for the Germany.

        Do you really consider this to be the statements of a “passport American”?


        I was just wondering because it’s actually not Jermaine Jones who said this:

        “It’s just that I told them I need a bit of time,” Kakuta Manneh said. “They always send me an invitation (Gambia) every game they have. My response has been the same: I need options. I need to get my passport and then decide what I need to do, if I want to play for Gambia or the United States. I need to see what the right fit is for me, so that’s the delay for me.

        “That’s why I haven’t really made my decision, but it would be an honor for me to play for either of those teams. It’s the national team. Everybody wants to represent it, but either of those would be great. I think it would be silly on my part to rush right now and go and play for Gambia when I can have a chance to play for the United States.”

        The above statement is, in fact, made by a soccer player that moved here six years ago and for the last three years has literally driven back and forth from Point Roberts, Washington (23 miles south of Canada) to Vancouver for training in an effort to remain a United States citizen.

        Interesting, but why the obvious desire to remain a resident of the United States you may ask? Let’s ask his agent:

        “Whatever we’ve needed to do, we’ve done it because him being a US citizen, as opposed to not, is obviously beneficial to use.” Lenarduzzi said (his agent)

        Beneficial from a patriotic standpoint? Beneficial from a soccer standpoint? I think the answer is obvious.

        Now as a disclaimer I have zero issue with Manneh’s version of the American Dream. I did, however, want to hold a mirror to your xenophobia and display how ridiculous it is without any logical criteria since you’ve deemed Manneh acceptable but not the sons of serviceman you deem “passport Americans”.

      • I don’t have the same views as Slow on this subject, but man you guys really use the word xenophobic liberally and incorrectly.

      • I knew we count on old school for vitriolic posts filled with bold type, links and improper use of the word xenophobic. What I think is reasonable is for someone to actually live here for at least some time before they represent us. Seems reasonable to me and my view is, in fact, the majority view around the world. It’s not surprising Manneh would be torn and if he choose Gambia I wouldn’t blame him. I’m not really sure what point you were trying to make.

      • Bryan et al, look up the word xenophobic and then think about that definition. Then realize that most SBI conversations on this topic deal specifically with the USMNT and people’s opinions on who they think should be allowed the honor to represent our country on the USMNT. You are free to disagree with Slow, as I usually do on this subject, but using the word Xenophobic is just a lazy technique to try and make your argument against his seem stronger.

        I don’t know Slow and have no idea if he is xenophobic or not. Maybe he is maybe he isn’t. I could say the same about everyone else here. But if I am judging him just on his USMNT specific comments then no he isn’t xenophobic. In my opinion, he is just overly sensitive/picky about who gets to represent the USMNT. Me personally, I just care if the player is good or not.

      • Take your medicine, slowleftfarm and wear the label you’ve earned.

        Fair point if you want to call me vitriolic towards you, but I don’t apologize or hide from it. So long as you continue using the phrase “passport Americans” towards family members of serviceman I’ll continue to call you on your ignorance and make no apologies for doing so.

        Your inability to see the irony in the two, extremely clear, examples I provided is your own deficiency.

      • I know what the definition of xenophobic is. I’ve read slows comments on this stuff over and over again. I’m choosing to conclude he is xenophobe even if his posts on SBI don’t say he is outright.

      • “I’m choosing to conclude he is xenophobe even if …”

        Fair enough. Not much else I can say to that.

      • This is par for the course for these guys – “even though I have no evidence to support me, I’m going to name call because taking this position makes me feel better about myself.”

      • I’ve provided enough “evidence” to support the accusation of your xenophobia on several occasions highlighting your ignorance with your own statements and sentiments (to which you always disappear conveniently). Otherwise you wouldn’t have made the following statement: “At least this “old school” post didn’t come with links and footnote” in another thread.

        Frankly, it’s just sad when your only defense is straight up denials feigning ignorance and innocence. That’s the defense mechanism of a child or someone in a defeated mindset, slow, but you already knew that.

  9. In the interviews I’d read he did not sound so committed to the US, but if you watch the interview and see his face when he talks about playing for the US, it seems like a pretty done deal. The article also makes Villafana’s comment that JK has never called him seem even stranger. Is there something there we don’t know about?

    • Stu Holden said Villafana is on JK’s radar. Probably want a long look at him and team will be in ‘win now’ mode at Copa. Most likely will call him in during next WC qualifier.

    • Let’s slow the roll a little, he looks very promising especially at only 21, but let’s be honest that was his best game since a hat trick in 2013 (so 1/4 of his career goals have come in 2 games). Before Saturday he had a goal and an assist in eleven games played this season.


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