[FOUR THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT ...]In his two seasons in the Development Academy since arriving from Gambia, no one has managed to stop Kekuta Manneh. He had 35 goals in 23 games last season for Texas Rush AJ Auxerre's U-15/16s, and he has 21 goals in 16 games since moving to Lonestar's U-17/18s. No wonder he is considered by many the top prospect in the Class of 2013. For four things to know about Manneh ...
GAMBIAN CONNECTION.U.S. clubs have tapped into the emerging talent in Gambia like no other African country. The Gambian pipeline began in 2007 when Kenny Mansally and Sainey Nyassi were discovered by the New England Revolution playing for Gambia's Baby Scorpions at the 2007 Under-20 World Cup in Canada. Other Gambians have followed to MLS, most notably Futty Danso, who had an excellent first season for Portland in 2011.
RUSH MOVEMENT.The Rush Soccer Club, based in Colorado, considers itself the largest club in the world with programs across the country and in numerous foreign countries. Gambia Rush has sent players to Colorado Rush and Georgia Rush besides Manneh, who joined Texas Rush last season. He was named to the DA Best XI with Rush before moving to Texas rival Lonestar this season.
'PURE FINISHER.'At 5-foot-9 and only 140 pounds, Manneh isn't big, but his ability on the ball makes a scoring threat. "Kekuta is the best pure finisher I have ever coached," Rush technical director Don Gemmell told ESPN Rise last spring. "Kekuta has extremely quick feet and can run at full speed with the ball, changing direction without hesitation. Kekuta can finish with either foot and rarely will miss opportunities once he's gotten into the penalty box."
GOAL MACHINE.Manneh was responsible for 35 of the Rush's 53 goals last season and has scored over half Lonestar's goals: 21 of 41. Lonestar is 5-5-1 in conference play in one of the nation's toughest leagues, the Texas Division, but it has won all five non-league games. Sure enough, Manneh scored in all five games.