Kekuta Manneh headed to Pachuca in Mexico

After five seasons in MLS, 22-year-old Kekuta Manneh is leaving on a free transfer to join Mexican powerhouse Pachuca, where he will join fellow American Omar Gonzalez.

Manneh joins D.C. United keeper Bill Hamid (Denmark's FC Midtjylland), Sporting Kansas City defender Erik Palmer-Brown (England’s Manchester City) and Seattle left back Joevin Jones (Germany's Darmstadt) who have moved abroad after playing out their MLS contracts.

Manneh, who was born in Gambia and moved to the United States on a sports exchange program as a teenager, was the No. 4 pick by Vancouver in the 2013 SuperDraft out of high school.

He had 26 goals and 15 assists in 120 games with the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Columbus Crew, which he joined in March. He was mostly used off the bench by the Crew, which finished second in the Eastern Conference.

Manneh attended the U.S. national team's January camp and will be eligible to play for the USA when he turns 23 on Saturday. FIFA rules require foreign-born players to wait until five years after they moved or their 18th birthday before they can play for their adopted home.

Manneh's connection to the United States was the Rush Soccer Club. The Colorado-based club considers itself the largest club in the world with programs across the country and in numerous foreign countries. Gambia Rush has sent players to Rush clubs in the United States, including Manneh, whose mother died when he was 10.

Manneh played first for Georgia Rush and then Texas Rush AJ Auxerre, where he scored 35 goals in 23 games in 2010-11 for its U-16s. Manneh eventually moved to a rival youth club, Lonestar, and then the PDL's Austin Aztex but he was adopted by his family in Austin, the Niccums, leading to his path to citizenship.
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