The United Soccer Leagues have announced that Vancouver Whitecaps FC striker Marcus Haber and defender/midfielder Wes Knight have both been nominated as finalists for the 2009 United Soccer Leagues First Division (USL-1) Rookie of the Year award.
The Whitecaps pair join Austin Aztex attacking midfielder Sullivan Silva in being the three nominees for this season's rookie accolade.
The finalists and award winners were determined by a vote from the league’s coaches and general managers. The Rookie of the Year will be announced Friday in Vancouver at the USL-1 Championship Series kick-off media conference.
Haber, 20, earns the league's nomination after a fine first season with his hometown club. The Canadian youth international claimed both the Whitecaps Newcomer of the Year and Fan Favourite awards after scoring eight goals and recording four assists for 20 points during the USL-1 regular season campaign. His eight goals saw the forward finish in a tie for seventh in the league's goalscoring charts, while his 20 points left him seventh among the league's point leaders. The native of Vancouver, BC, was also one of seven USL-1 players to appear in every regular season match for his club, with the striker earning two USL-1 Team of the Week honours during the year. Haber also scored in both legs of the Whitecaps playoff semifinal upset of USL-1 regular season champions and Pacific Northwest rivals Portland Timbers on October 1 and 4.
Knight, 23, was also nominated after an impressive first season in the professional game with Vancouver. A product of College of Charleston, the native of Easley, South Carolina, was the USL-1's joint assist leader alongside Minnesota Thunder midfielder Ricardo Sanchez after recording eight assists in 29 regular season appearances for the Whitecaps. A speedy flank player with the ability to make long and dangerous throw-ins, Knight was named to the league's Team of the Week on the three occasions during the season.
Both Haber and Knight will look to become the first Whitecaps player to win the USL-1 Rookie of the Year award since Giuliano Oliviero won it back in 1995. Former Whitecaps striker and current Montreal Impact forward Joey Gjertsen was a finalist for the award in 2005, while 'Caps winger Vicente Arze was nominated last season.