In Bruce Arena’s Facebook Live Q&A today, he mentioned Kekuta Manneh as someone who will be called into January camp. This was a pleasant surprise for most, as while it seemed clear Manneh was aiming for U.S. citizenship and the USMNT for a while (including owning a house in Point Roberts, a suburb of Vancouver that is disconnected from the contiguous United States mainland but is legally considered a part of Washington, and commuting to Vancouver every day for games and practice), not much fanfare had previously surfaced that Manneh had actually completed the citizenship process. However, U.S. Soccer’s coverage of Arena’s Q&A session seems to indicate that Manneh is indeed already a citizen.
Speaking later about the need to test younger players in the team’s wide midfield positions, Arena also dropped the name of Kekuta Manneh. Born in Gambia, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC winger recently gained his U.S. citizenship, pushing him one step closer to being eligible for the U.S. MNT.
Spoke w/ Kekuta Manneh when he passed his US citizenship tests in July, had to take oath before finalized. Says foot rehab going well now.— Julie Stewart-Binks (@JSB_TV) December 16, 2016
If Manneh already has completed his citizenship process, it should be a simple matter of accepting a call from the U.S. While he was called up to The Gambia’s U20 World Cup teams in both 2011 and 2015, he did not accept either invitation, and as such has never represented any international team, youth or otherwise.
Of course, Manneh will also need to fully recover from the season-ending foot surgery he completed of July this year. If he can, Bruce Arena adds another exciting prospect to his stable of potential players. Despite concerns about his consistency in MLS, Manneh still is only 21 years old with a few years of professional soccer under his belt, and his speed and playmaking ability have completely changed games for Vancouver in the past. Time will tell if these reports that Manneh’s citizenship process is complete are true, but as it stands, the USMNT might just have a shiny new toy.