It has been a long and circuitous journey for Victor Mansaray, but the 17-year-old can now proudly say, “I am an American.”
Mansaray grew up in Sierra Leone and spent some time in Jamaica before landing in Seattle. Two stellar seasons earned him a spot on the U.S. U-18 National Team for last week’s International Tournament of Vaclav Jezek in Czech Republic, and after pulling on the U.S. kit for the first time, there was no questioning his national allegiance.
“I’m American. Once I put on that jersey, I’m an American,” Mansaray said. “I can go back home and mingle with everyone and fit in, but once I put that jersey on, I’m American.”
The Fife native helped the U.S. win the tournament with a 3-0-0 record, including a shutout victory over Ukraine in the final.
In the opener on August 20, Mansaray played 61 minutes while the U.S. topped Hungary 3-1. The following day, the U.S won 3-2 over host Czech Republic, but Mansaray didn’t feature in the match after the short turnaround.
In the tournament final, the U.S. posted a 1-0 victory over Ukraine to finish the brief trip with a perfect record. Mansaray played 45 minutes to finish the tournament with 106 total minutes of international competition.
The decision to forgo opportunities with Sierra Leone and Jamaica wasn’t an easy one and was made more difficult when he encountered issues with his passport. Now that he is all sorted out and has experience under his belt he is able to show his promise for club and country.
“This has been going on for the last year. I was in a position that I couldn’t go without my U.S. Passport. Now I’ve got that sorted out. I was also thinking about going to Sierra Leone or Jamaica. It was a tough decision,” Mansaray said. “At the end of the day I decided to go with the U.S. because it’s the best fit.”
Mansaray entered the Sounders FC Academy midway through the 2012-2013 season and finished the season with 11 goals in just 20 matches, while coming off the bench in nine of those matches.
In his second season with the U-16s, he scored a team-high 18 goals in helping the team reach the national tournament for a second straight season.
He is now poised to help lead the U-18s in his first year with the top Academy team, as well as time training with the Sounders FC first team and several appearances with the Sounders FC reserves to fall back on as he embarks on the next journey in his young soccer career.
“I feel like we have the team to win the national championship and that’s the feeling from the first day,” Mansaray said.
The Sounders FC U-18s are in the midst of preseason training and will open the 2014-15 season on September 13 on the road against Vancouver Whitecaps FC.