Kekuta Manneh has a new home in MLS.
The Vancouver Whitecaps and Columbus Crew SC announced on Thursday they have completed a trade, with the Whitecaps sending winger Manneh to Columbus in exchange for midfielder Tony Tchani, $225,000 in Targeted Allocation Money and $75,000 in General Allocation Money.
If Crew SC re-sign Manneh, who is in the last year of his contract, Vancouver will also receive Columbus' next natural first round selection in the MLS SuperDraft. In addition, the Whitecaps will receive additional General Allocation Money if Manneh is traded by Columbus prior to December 31, 2018 and Vancouver will retain a percentage of any future transfer fee if the player is transferred outside of MLS.
“We take pride in our identity as an attacking team, so we are excited to announce the addition of Kekuta Manneh, one of the most dynamic, young, offensive players in Major League Soccer and a new addition to the US Soccer national team program,” said Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter in a team statement. “Kekuta complements the existing corps of attacking players on our roster and we expect him to play an important role with the club this season.”
Manneh, 22, has spent his entire MLS career prior to the trade with the Whitecaps, scoring 22 goals and 12 assists in 101 MLS regular season games from 2013 to the present. The 2013 MLS SuperDraft No. 4 overall selection recently obtained US citizenship and was called into the US national team's training camp in January while he awaits full clearance to play for the USMNT by FIFA.
“We are thankful to Kekuta for his contributions to this club over his four plus years,” said Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson in a team statement. “He is a good kid and a talented player who had some special moments in Vancouver, and we wish him all the best.”
Tchani heads to his fourth MLS team, having also previously played for the New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC. With Columbus since 2011, the 27-year-old has scored 10 goals and 21 assists from a holding midfield role over 172 MLS regular season appearances in his career.
“We have acquired an experienced, athletic, box-to-box player in Tony, who will help solidify our midfield,” said Robinson. “Tony is someone I enjoyed working with during my time in New York and I'm excited to have him join our group. In addition, the allocation money provides further opportunity to strengthen our roster and depending on what's next for Kekuta, there is also the potential of additional returns.”
In addition to his club career, which saw him reach the 2015 MLS Cup final as a starter for Crew SC, Tchani appeared for the USMNT in a January 2016 friendly before committing to play for his native Cameroon, for whom he has appeared in a pair of African Cup of Nations qualifiers.
“We would like to thank Tony Tchani for his significant contribution to the club throughout his time here,” said Berhalter. “Tony has been a consummate professional and we wish him all the best moving forward.”