Kekuta Manneh smiled at the thought of playing in the #HellIsReal Derby again.
When the two teams last met – last August – Manneh scored against his former team, but, truthfully, the goal is forgotten. What’s probably remembered is the scuffle that ensued when FC Cincinnati and Columbus Crew SC players fought over bringing the ball back to the midfield line.
By then, it was the 89th minute and FCC trailed, 3-1, at Nippert Stadium.
The conditions will be noticeably different for Saturday’s derby, and hopefully the performance will be too.
“Everyone on the team is excited about that game and I’m sure Columbus is excited about that game as well,” Manneh said last week. “Derbies are always a little tense and a little feisty, so I’m looking forward to that game and hopefully we’re able to get a result.”
Regardless of the outcome, it’ll certainly be a memorable meeting: the I-71 rivals meet in their opening match of the MLS is Back Tournament – a closed-door clash with major implications and bragging rights.
This year’s derby includes a more emotional element as well.
For Manneh, it’s a chance to play against a club he used to play for. Back in 2017, the winger made 19 appearances for Crew SC. And from the Columbus perspective, two of its players could play against Cincinnati, their former club: Fanendo Adi and Derrick Etienne Jr.
“Them having two players who played for us last season … I think it will add an extra flavor to that game,” Manneh said.
If either – or both – Adi and Etienne Jr. play, it’ll be the first time the Orange and Blue play against a former FCC player in MLS play.
It could’ve happened last August when FCC played at FC Dallas, but Eric Alexander wasn’t in FCD’s matchday squad.