Whitecaps suspend pair two games - The Province


BY MARC WEBER

Gbeke, a forward, and Charles, a central defender, almost came to blows in minute 85 as words escalated following a botched 2-on-1 chance for Gbeke and fellow forward Marlon James.

Charles was dealt a straight red card. Gbeke escaped with a yellow, but was banished after booting the team's water bottles when subbed off in the 90th. The two then briefly fought in the dressing room.

The United Soccer Leagues served up one-game bans for each, and the Whitecaps added a second game. The players -- who apologized to each other and to teammates Saturday, then publicly Monday -- were also fined an undisclosed amount.

"Our objective was to do more than what the league had done, and to be consistent," said Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi. "As far as we were concerned, both were equally to blame, both were willing participants."

Lenarduzzi wouldn't share if the fines were also equal, saying only that they were "substantial, considering what guys make in our league."

Gbeke, who shares the team goal-scoring lead with James at three, was relieved Tuesday. He'd feared a harsher ban.

"I was concerned it was going to be more," he said. "Two games is fair and we've just gotta go forward."

The team leaves Thursday for Montreal where they will watch the Nutrilite Canadian Championship finale between the Impact and Toronto FC, before facing the Impact on Saturday.

Gbeke and Charles will also miss the Caps' game at Cleveland City next Tuesday.

For Charles, the ban is a chance to stay home and rest his sore hip. Gbeke is heading to Montreal -- his hometown -- as "a normal citizen," accompanied by his wife.

"It will be a breath of fresh air," he said. "I'm going to go to the games as a fan and support my team."

Gbeke's ban is softened by the return of James from a hamstring pull. The loss of Charles comes at a bad time, with fellow starting central defender Jeff Parke (turf toe) out and Justin Thompson quitting last week.

mweber@theprovince.com

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