Kekuta Manneh makes most of time on pitch in Whitecaps 2-2 draw with Galaxy
Saturday, Apr 19, 2014 09:45 pm
VANCOUVER - Kekuta Manneh made his limited minutes count Saturday.
The second-half substitute's goal in the 86th minute gave the Vancouver Whitecaps a 2-2 draw with the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday before a sellout crowd of 21,000 at B.C. Place Stadium.
"It means a lot to me," said Manneh, who came on at the start of the second half. "That's what I'm always looking to do, whether I start come off the bench — make an impact for the team.
"Today, for me to do that, it definitely means a lot."
Manneh, a 19-year-old Gambian who is in his second season with the Whitecaps, fired in a shot from just outside the top of the Galaxy 18-yard box after taking a pass from Darren Mattocks. Following the goal, Manneh knelt and kissed the turf.
In addition to setting up the tying marker, Mattocks scored Vancouver's other goal as the Whitecaps overcame 1-0 and 2-1 deficits.
Stefan Ishizaki, in the first half, and Robbie Keane, in the second, scored for Los Angeles.
The Whitecaps improved to 2-2-3, earning a point after two straight losses.
"I've said all along we've got good players all through the squad," said Whitecaps striker Kenny Miller. "Any can come off the bench and make an impact. And, obviously, today you've seen that. It gives you that (pace.) We (forwards) are in behind and it makes defenders drop off more (deeply) and, ultimately, that's what led to (Manneh's) goal.
"There was a little bit of pace involved in that. It was a little bit of skill and a fantastic strike."
The hosts' rally prevented the Galaxy (2-1-2) from sweeping a back-to-back series with Vancouver after winning at home the previous weekend.
"I'm disappointed," said L.A. coach Bruce Arena. "I would have liked to get three points today. We obviously didn't do a good job protecting the lead."
Miller was disappointed with his club's first half effort, but was encouraged that the Caps created more chances than they did in Carson, Calif.
It was the 10th all-time MLS meeting between the teams. The Whitecaps still have only one win against the Galaxy, which has claimed two of the past three MLS titles. But Vancouver coach Carl Robinson liked the way his club rallied from being "kicked in the backside" twice — by trailing.
"In the last two games, we've shown that we can compete with one of the top teams in Major League Soccer," said Robinson, who feels the Caps have lack confidence against elite competition.
"We made it hard work. I don't think, in the first half, we had the belief that we could go toe-to-toe with them at home in front of our fans, and I think we were playing safe.
"Obviously, then I made a tactical switch to try to inject a bit of life with the kid coming on, (Manneh), who I toyed with the idea of play with from the start."
Ishizaki put the Galaxy on the scoreboard in the 38th minute as he and Baggio Husidic used their heads to score. Ishizaki jumped high to head in Husidic's header into the centre of the box from the left side of the area.
In addition to inserting Manneh for Canadian international midfielder Russell Teibert of Niagara Falls, Ont., Robinson also replaced central defender Andy O'Brien with Johnny Leveron in central defence.
O'Brien had taken a yellow card in the first minute for a hard sliding tackle on Keane, so Robinson switched the defenders because he wanted to avoid a repeat of the Caps' last game at home. On April 5, defensive midfielder Matias Laba was ejected for a second yellow card and the Colorado Rapids overcame a 1-0 deficit to win.
"I took (O'Brien) off just because I was worried about him getting sent off," said Robinson.
In the 65th minute, Robinson tried to inject more speed by substituting Morales for Erik Hurtado and putting him out wide on the right wing. Two minutes later, with Hurtado part of the rush, Mattocks created a 1-1 tie as he ran onto Gershon Koffie's long, curling lead ball along the right flank. Penedo beat him to it, but could not control the ball and it bounced off the goalkeeper and a defender back to Mattocks.
Mattocks then put in a right-footed spinner from a seemingly impossible angle near the goal-line.
"I didn't even look at the (net), to be honest," said Mattocks. "As a striker, you have to know where the goal is."
Keane gave L.A. a 2-1 lead 10 minutes later as he fielded a header from second-half substitute Rob Friend, a Kelowna, B.C., native, and then volleyed a shot past Ousted from the goalkeeper's doorstep.
But just when it looked like Keane would be the winning-goal scorer for the second straight week, Manneh emerged the hero. He offered more fodder in the debate about his playing time after being used primarily as a substitute.
"I'm a little disappointed that I'm not starting (every game), but I'm pretty happy with my role," said Manneh, who started the first game against L.A.
Both clubs' goalkeepers made saves in the closing minute to secure the draw. Ousted made his 20th consecutive start dating back to last season — a day after his wife gave birth to twin boys.
"He was fantastic after, especially, one or two sleepless nights," said Robinson.
Notes: Laba played the full game in his return from suspension for the ejection against Colorado. … Keane and O'Brien were teammates while playing for the Republic of Ireland. O'Brien was born in England but holds dual English-Irish citizenship. … Whitecaps midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy has resumed full-contact workouts after suffering a season-ending torn knee ligament, which required surgery, while playing for San Jose in 2013. … Striker Omar Salgado, Vancouver's first-ever draft pick, who is on loan to Charleston Battery of the USL, is sidelined with a sprained foot suffered March 29, but has resumed partial training. Salgado missed most of the past two seasons with foot fractures sustained on different occasions while playing for the U.S. under-20 team. … Friend, 33, played before about 25 family members and friends. He is in his first and last season in MLS after playing in Germany, the Netherlands and Norway. He plans to retire after the season. … Vancouver midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker was an unused substitute and has yet to play since suffering a concussion in a freak off-field mishap with a bike rack.