Knight suits up to fight familiar foes - The Province

South Carolina native will not lack motivation

By Marc Weber

Vancouver Whitecaps rookie Wes Knight grew up in Easley, S.C., about 4 1/2 hours away from the Carolina RailHawks headquarters, and one less from the Charleston Battery's home base.

But while games against these two USL squads are always exciting for Knight, he's not trying to prove anyone wrong.

The Caps are in the midst of a four-game set against Carolina and Charleston and host the RailHawks on Saturday (7 p.m., Shaw TV).

"I wanted to get out of South Carolina and I told them not to really even worry about it [trying to sign him]," said the speedy 22-year-old defender/midfielder. "I just wanted to have an adventure. I'd been playing there my whole life."

Knight was a two-time All-South Region all-star while at NCAA D1 College of Charleston, right in the Battery's backyard. In fact, Battery players Dusty Huddock, Ian Fuller and Keith Wiggans were all assistant coaches there when he played, and the top college guys often joined the Battery for informal training sessions and pickup games in the offseason.

Knight is also close with a couple of Carolina's players, including defender Devon McKenney. The two played together in the USL's Premier Development League with Bradenton, Fla.

"It's a lot of motivation to play against these teams and to get results," said Knight. "We've lost games against them, so now it's time to take the split. We have to. Our backs are against the wall now."

Vancouver faced Carolina on the road one month ago -- a 2-1 loss -- and Fox Soccer Channel commentators talked up the hometown kid all game long. He's been one of the best rookies in the league, and the matchup with the RailHawks' Guyana-born striker Gregory Richardson (four goals in five games since being released by MLS side Colorado) will be key.

n Whitecaps residency players William Hyde of Oakville, Ont., Greg Smith of North Vancouver and Simon Thomas of Victoria are UBC-bound for their rookie seasons this fall. Smith spent last season on loan with the U19 side of German Bundesliga club FC Energie Cottbus.

Kickoff: 7 p.m., Saturday

Venue: Swangard Stadium

TV/Web: Shaw/USLlive.com

Whitecaps
players and coaches have repeatedly said that there's no panic in the
squad, but their level of concern will certainly increase if they don't
get a result against the RailHawks on Saturday. Ten games remain and
Vancouver is tied for the final playoff spot with Miami.

Another
tough road trip follows with games in Carolina and Charleston, before
the schedule softens down the stretch. Get the latest lineup notes from
today's practice at theprovince.com/blogs.

CAROLINA RAILHAWKS

(USL-1 record: 13-5-3; Away: 5-3-2)

The second-best road team in the league comes to Vancouver having won six of seven games -- four in a row by shutout.

Top league scorer: Three tied (4)

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS

(USL-1 record: 7-9-4; Home: 5-3-1)

Predicted starting XI: J Nolly; T Hirano, M Reda, C Pozniak, W Knight; T Burgess, M Nash, G Chin, V Arze; M James, M Haber.

Top league scorer: Marlon James (8)

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