VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Whitecaps have traded promising striker Kekuta Manneh to Columbus in exchange for midfielder Tony Tchani and US$300,000 in allocation money.
Vancouver will also get a first-round draft pick if the Crew re-signs Manneh, who is in the final year of a contract.
The Whitecaps selected Manneh with the fourth overall selection in the 2013 Major League Soccer SuperDraft, a pick Vancouver acquired from Toronto FC.
He broke onto the MLS scene in style, scoring six goals in 20 league appearances in his rookie season and becoming the youngest player in MLS history to record a hat-trick (18 years 283 days) in a 4-1 win over Seattle on Oct. 9 2013.
In total, Manneh 101 MLS regular-season appearances with the Whitecaps, scoring 22 goals and adding 12 assists. A native of Bakau, The Gambia, Manneh received his U.S. citizenship in September and is a recent addition to the US Soccer national team program.
The emergence of 16-year-old forward Alphonso Davies may have made Manneh expendable.
"We are thankful to Kekuta for his contributions to this club over his four plus years," Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson said in a statement. "He is a good kid and a talented player who had some special moments in Vancouver, and we wish him all the best."
The 27-year-old Tchani brings seven years of MLS experience to the Whitecaps.
The Cameroonian spent five seasons in Columbus, helping the Crew reach the 2015 MLS Cup Final after a year in which he recorded five goals and six assists.
Tchani has also played for the New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC. Overall he has appeared in 172 MLS regular season matches, recording 10 goals and 21 assists.
Tchani will be added to Vancouver's MLS roster pending receipt of his international transfer certificate and Canadian work permit.
"We have acquired an experienced, athletic, box-to-box player in Tony, who will help solidify our midfield," Robinson said. "Tony is someone I enjoyed working with during my time in New York and I'm excited to have him join our group. In addition, the allocation money provides further opportunity to strengthen our roster and depending on what's next for Kekuta, there is also the potential of additional returns."
The Canadian Press