Just look at the list of fine strikers (and feel free to register appropriate levels of head-nodding approval) who have recorded a hat trick this year in MLS. It’s a real who’s who of high-profile goal-getters around the league.
This list includes MLS all-time leading scorer Landon Donovan, Irish international Robbie Keane, veteran Costa Rican international Alvaro Saborio and both Golden Boot frontrunners Marco Di Vaio and Mike Magee.
Oh, and then there is Kekuta Manneh (pictured), who hardly carries the same name cache. Heck , the man could walk into the most soccer friendly pub in the United States or Canada and not stir up a fuss. Probably even in Vancouver, where he plays professionally!
That by itself would be enough to make Manneh a fine Player of the Week choices. But also consider this, and his case really is a slam dunk for Week 33 in the league:
- It was just the fourth professional start for the 18-year-old striker. Not bad, eh?
- He is the youngest MLS hat trick hero. Not one bit bad, either. Consider that a guy like Jozy Altidore scored his first pro goal for the Red Bulls at age 16. Juan Agudelo was just 18 when he scored his first goal for the same club. Freddy Adu was just 14 when he earned his young goal-scorers badge. The point is, some talented attackers have scored at a young age in MLS, so being the youngest hat trick man is saying something.
- It blazed the path for an absolutely mammoth win for the Whitecaps, a Cascadia Cup thrashing (4-1) against a bitter rival, the first Whitecaps win at Seattle in the modern era and a win that reenergized Vancouver’s playoff chances, previously left alongside the road and all but forgotten.
- His hat trick was just the seventh in MLS this year. (From the list above, Keane has two of them.)
Here are the match highlights from his big night at CenturyLink: