'A dangerous weapon'
BY MARC WEBER
If they want to coax a little more home-field advantage out of Swangard Stadium, the Whitecaps would be well served to shift the far-side bleachers a few feet back.
On Saturday against Portland, it might have saved Wes Knight from a Timbers Army beer shower. Looking ahead, it could well result in an extra two or three goals from Knight throw-ins.
The first-year Whitecap from Easley, S.C., gave the home fans their first look at his long-throw prowess in Saturday's 1-0 win.
In the first half, with scant room to work with off the sideline, he launched two dangerous balls into the heart of the box and Charles Gbeke just missed converting one of them.
In last week's road draw with Austin, Marco Reda's goal came off a Knight throw all the way to the far post. He had a running track to work with there.
"For us it's a weapon. A dangerous weapon," said head coach Teitur Thordarson, who admitted he only became aware of Knight's rare skill after signing him.
"It's just as good as having a player taking good corners and free kicks."
The Whitecaps have an arsenal of big players who are capable in the air, which makes Knight's throws that much more dangerous -- Gbeke and Marlon James up front, Reda and Wesley Charles coming in from the back.
"Hopefully it will be an asset for us," said Knight, who jokes with his buddies about the time he scored from a throw-in as a high school senior -- the only guy in South Carolina history to do so, they claim.
"I was a quarterback growing up and played a lot of basketball, too. I remember one day in P.E. class doing an inbounds [basketball] pass from one side of the gym to the other. It converted to soccer and I started getting a lot of assists that way.
"It just became a weapon and something I continued to work on."
Too much of Vancouver's attack was based on set pieces Saturday. Not enough came from the run of play and that's something they'll have to develop moving forward.
Knight's unique ability will help him stick in the starting lineup, but the 22-year-old out of the College of Charleston will have to be far more than a one-trick pony.
If Saturday is any indication -- where he again filled in at right wing rather than right back -- there's much more to his game.
"He played against a really good left back in David Hayes [2007 USL-1 defender of the year] and he dominated at times," said Gbeke. "His long throw is terrific and we're going to have a lot of things from it."
Knight wouldn't bite on the seating realignment query -- "A few feet would help, but I'm just a young guy, I don't want to make any noise," he said -- but he did comment on the treatment he received from the visiting supporters group.
"They were throwing beer on me," Knight said.
"I had to step away and I just told the linesman it was ridiculous."
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