Kekuta Manneh hat trick leads Vancouver Whitecaps to win: "These are the games we dream to play"

SEATTLE – Perhaps Nigel Reo-Coker summed up the Vancouver Whitecaps' 4-1 thrashing of the Seattle Sounders best Wednesday night following the match.

“From a young age, I was told of a saying, 'It's a funny old game,'” Reo-Coker told reporters at CenturyLink Field. “And I still stand by that saying and it's something I believe in.”

It's difficult to describe the match in any other way. Kekuta Manneh scores a hat trick in just his fourth professional start, and Vancouver claim their first away win against the Sounders in the MLS era. In scoring three goals, the 18-year-old Manneh became the youngest scorer of a hat trick in league history.

It's the context that makes the result so surprising. The Whitecaps have struggled mightily in recent weeks, and entered this match with just two wins from their last dozen outings. The Sounders, while coming off a 5-1 beating from the Colorado Rapids, were nigh unbeatable at home prior to this, entering the game with a 10-1-4 record.

“We kind of joked before it, you're never exactly sure what you're going to get with an 18-year-old,” head coach Martin Rennie told reporters. “But he's unbelievably talented and he's someone we're really proud of and really glad to have him in our team.

“He's shown what he can do tonight. Obviously with young players you're not always going to get that consistent level of performance, but we did actually talk about it before – if he showed up, then he could have a huge impact on the game, and he did.”

Soft-spoken Manneh, the fourth overall selection in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, scored his goals with such composure, getting in behind the Sounders backline time and again.

First he broke through 12 minutes in, beating Michael Gspurning after Daigo Kobayashi sent him through alone with a strong headed pass. Then the Gambian finished a beautiful set-up from Camilo, who flicked it into his path after receiving a penetrating through ball from Lee Young-Pyo.

Manneh capped his performance with a cool finish through the legs of Gspurning after playing a one-two with Kobayashi.

“The thing is, I'm more nervous in this interview than the game,” Manneh told reporters after the match of his seemingly relaxed finishing. “This is the type of games every player wants to play in. These are the games we dream to play, in front of this crowd. All you can do is get excited and play the game.”

Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.