Why Rio can't rival Edmonton for goal hero Charles Gbeke - The Province
There aren't many good reasons for a Canadian to postpone a trip to Brazil in mid-October, but Charles Gbeke was given one.
The Whitecaps' man of the moment -- scoring twice Sunday to lead his side to the USL First Division title -- was called up to Canada's national team Monday.
This morning, he flies to Edmonton where, Wednesday, Canada hosts Mexico in its next-to-last -- if futile -- World Cup qualifier.
Whitecaps director of professional teams Greg Anderson phoned the big forward, who was ready to leave on a Brazilian vacation.
"It's crazy," Gbeke said. "It was nice when I woke up to get that call -- unexpected. It's a perfect time for me now. I'm just going there with a winning attitude."
That could be as welcome as his ability to hold the ball up and dominate the air space around goal. The Canadians (0-1-3 in CONCACAF semifinal-round play) were officially eliminated from 2010 World Cup contention Saturday in Honduras.
With coach Dale Mitchell taking it from all sides and some players rumoured to be returning to their clubs, it's hard to say what this call-up means for Gbeke's career.
But the 30-year-old thinks he's got plenty to play for.
"I get better while I age," said the Montrealer, who credits Caps coach Teitur Thordarson with encouraging him to get fitter since a midseason trade from the Impact. "I feel great physically. If they give me the chance I'm going to do well for Canada."
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound forward earned his first cap in a Jan. 30 win over the eastern Caribbean nation of Martinique, but had been left out since a February friendly.
"I'm ecstatic for the guy," said Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi, who calls Gbeke a priority signing. "He just plays on emotion. Certainly, after [Sunday] and even prior to that, we've seen what he can bring."
© The Vancouver Province 2008