For those who don’t know, the Vancouver Whitecaps announced earlier today they had acquired Tony Tchani and $300,000 in allocation money from the Columbus Crew in exchange for forward Kekuta Manneh.
My question is…why?
Listen…I don’t get it Vancouver. This offseason you went and acquired Brek Shea from Orlando City for a hefty sum; sending Giles Barnes, a player who shortly thereafter received a DP contract, in the other direction. Shea was a definite starter for your team at that price.
However, given how the Whitecaps like to put two defensive-minded midfielders at the back and Shea likes to play on the wing as well as attack, this meant that he’d have to be slotted into the left wing position in front of Jordan Harvey.
Guess what Kekuta Manneh’s position was for the Vancouver Whitecaps? The left wing position.
Now I’ll be the first to admit that Manneh isn’t someone that I’d ideally have controlling the ball in the box and taking a shot on goal. On a fast break, he’s more like a ricochet point. His pace is his strongest attribute so he’s the guy you want linking the ball between the defenders and whoever the Whitecaps have in the striker position.
To say that Kekuta Manneh has had a set position this season would be an understatement. Carl Robinson has constantly shuffled his forwards and midfielders so far this season. In Vancouver’s two Champions League games against New York, Manneh slotted into Pedro Morales’s former spot as central attacker. On three days rest for Vancouver’s first MLS regular season game, Manneh was paired with Erik Hurtado as strikers. The week after, Manneh was in his more comfortable position out wide on the left as a midfielder. Against Tigres, Manneh doesn’t see action and Shea gets his first start of the season. In their last game against Toronto, Manneh gets subbed on at the 74th minute just four minutes after Shea picks up a red card.
Manneh has had 61 minutes of play at his ideal position and Vancouver just traded him away in favor of Shea who, many would agree, is on the downside of his career at age 27.
Now, I’m not saying that Tony Tchani is a bad player and Vancouver got nothing in return for Manneh. However, this makes you wonder whose spot in the starting lineup, or on the bench, is in jeopardy. Tchani plays in the central midfield and tends to be defensive-minded.
That’s great for Vancouver who like to play two defensive-minded central midfielders in their lineup. Alas, those roles are currently being held down by Matias Laba and Russell Teibert. In fact, for a majority of the season, Robinson has rotated these players in-and-out at the cost of playing an extra attack-minded midfielder like Cristian Techera or Andrew Jacobson.
With the subtraction of Manneh and the addition of Tchani, what does this mean for the immediate future of the Whitecaps lineup. Outside of Laba and the Canadian Freddy Adu, the Whitecaps have a glut of midfielders that are all basically the same caliber.
That’s something Portland and Seattle don’t necessarily have to contend with. Outside of one spot, you know who you’re going to get so long as they’re healthy. That’s build chemistry, something Vancouver will be unable to get if they keep shuffling their lineup like they have this season.
I don’t know what benefit Tchani brings to the Whitecaps. He seems to have fallen out of favor in Columbus, not playing a single minute this season so far. Is he really that much of an upgrade over Teibert or Jacobson or Techera or Mezquida or Bolanos? They even brought back Mauro Rosales for some reason though he hasn’t played this season.
Hell, I’m still wondering why they brought in Shea. We’ll see how the acquisition of Fredy Montero turns out in the long run, given Vancouver’s track record with strikers. If he turns out to be better than Barnes then it’ll be seen as a wise move. I don’t know the benchmark the Whitecaps have set for Shea but I imagine picking up a red card for dissent in his first start of the MLS regular season wasn’t in the cards.
I don’t know what Vancouver is thinking with letting go of Kekuta Manneh. I really don’t. I don’t even know what Columbus are going to do with him. Justin Meram seemingly has Manneh’s likely position on lock. Manneh and Finlay on opposite wings with Kamara and Higuain in the center does sound nice but that’d only happen if Meram is subbed off.
At the end of the day, I’m sure as hell happy I didn’t put Manneh’s name and number on the back of my new Whitecaps jersey. If I had, I’d be pretty peeved right about now.