I'm very excited about the potential of Kekuta Manneh. We saw his goal against FC Dallas; it was pure skill, it was clutch, and it started the comeback that Camilo would eventually finish off. It was refreshing to see a young player get his opportunity and make it count, a problem that has really resonated throughout the entire team. Once Manneh bulged the net, the 'Caps just looked different, far more confident than before. Basically, I like the kid.
However, we do have a tendency to get far too excited about these players before we see enough of them. While I'd hate to be a debbie downer, there are still plenty of holes in Manneh's game. For your amusement, here is the crap sandwich.
His first touch is brutal
I'm a big fan of the potential of Manneh, and we're all definitely in the honeymoon phase from his successful outing on the weekend. Now, that being said, his first touch makes Erik Hurtado look like a graceful ballerina. It seems like every time he puts his foot on a stopped ball, it gets away from him. It happened three or four times last match, and it got pretty frustrating. Now, he did figure it out and get a rhythm going, but for a large portion of the match it was very apparent that we were watching an 18 year old rookie on the pitch.
He makes his chances count
Here is the meat of the crap sandwich. It's easy to draw a comparison to Darren Mattocks when writing about Manneh; they're both young, fast, and have unbelievable upside. However, one area that Manneh bested Mattocks in on Saturday was perhaps the most important one; he actually scored a goal. I counted four chances for Mattocks to bust his slump, and I'm talking about gift-wrapped Grade "A" scoring opportunities, and the struggling attacker couldn't bury any of them. I'm not trying to dump on Mattocks, you have to be good to even get those chances. However, Manneh had less chances than Mattocks, and he made his count.
He can't beat defenders
Manneh is still pretty young, so I am trying to cut him some slack. However, I suppose the underlined purpose of this article is for us to not get over-excited and hype the guy up too much; we've seen that happen far too many times. For Manneh, he needs to learn to use his teammates more in the attack, because against FC Dallas, far too many balls were lost when Manneh tried to go through the defender. He would try a cheeky move, or a through ball for himself, and more often than not the ball was easily taken away from him. His passing could use a little work too, when you compare his passes to those of a Camilo or a Nigel Reo-Coker. However, at the end of the day; He's 18 freaking years old, I think I can cut him a little slack.
What do you think? Am I being too hard on the kid?