The United Soccer Leagues have announced that Vancouver Whitecaps FC striker Marcus Haber has been named United Soccer Leagues First Division (USL-1) Rookie of the Year for the 2009 season.
The native of Vancouver, BC, won the end-of-season accolade following a highly successful first season with his hometown club. The 20-year-old was chosen ahead of Whitecaps teammate Wes Knight and Austin Aztex attacking midfielder Sullivan Silva for the award, and becomes the first Whitecaps player to be named USL-1 Rookie of the Year since Giuliano Oliviero back in 1995. Haber is also the first Canadian to win the award since Nikola Budalic won it as a member of former USL-1 club Toronto Lynx in 2002. Other Canadian winners of the award include Robbie Aristidemo (Toronto Lynx – 2001) and Jason de Vos (Montreal Impact – 1993).
The USL-1 Rookie of the Year award culminates a memorable 2009 campaign for the Canadian youth international, with Haber's efforts already earning him the Whitecaps Newcomer of the Year and Fan Favourite awards from the club this season.
After spending two seasons with the U-19 and reserve teams of Dutch club FC Groningen, Haber returned to Vancouver and signed a one-year contract - plus an option - with the Whitecaps on February 11. As one of five striking options in Teitur Thordarson's squad, Haber scored eight goals and recorded four assists for 20 points during the regular season. 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 USL-1's point leaders. Haber was also one of seven USL-1 players to appear in every regular season match for his club. The striker also earned two Team of the Week honours during the year. In this season's playoffs, Haber scored in both legs of the Whitecaps semifinal series upset of regular season champions and Pacific Northwest rivals Portland Timbers on October 1 and 4.
Haber has also had a distinguished youth international career with Canada. The striker appeared in Canada's hosting of the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, as well as the qualifying campaigns for both the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Cup and the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup. He was also a member of Canada's U-23 squad that participated in qualifying for the Beijing Olympics in March 2008.