By John F. Molinaro, CBC Sports
Marcus Haber is on his way to England after the Vancouver Whitecaps confirmed Wednesday they have sold the Canadian striker to West Bromwich Albion.
Financial details of the transfer were not disclosed.
"We're excited for him but also disappointed that we're losing a good, young prospect," Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi told CBCSports.ca.
Haber joins West Brom, who competes in the Championship (English second division), after enjoying a successful rookie season with the Whitecaps in 2009.
Haber, who turns 21 next Monday, has become one of the top emerging prospects in Canadian soccer after a sensational campaign with the Whitecaps that saw him score eight goals in 30 USL-1 games. He was also named the league's rookie of the year.
West Brom made the move for Haber after the Vancouver native impressed coaches during a four-day trial at the club last November.
Lenarduzzi believes Haber's speed makes him a natural fit for English soccer where games are often played at a breakneck pace.
"I knew he was quick but he's soccer-quick, so when he gets opponents in one-on-one situations, he has great acceleration," Lenarduzzi explained. "I've seen a lot of fast players who still aren't able to get by players because they don't know when to use their speed.
"Marcus seems to know when to slow down and freeze the defender to the point where he's able to get by them."
Aside from Haber's pace, his other big asset is his finishing ability in front of goal.
"He's pretty clinical," Lenarduzzi stated. "When he gets a scoring chance, more often than not he will bury it. He's good with the ball at his feet … good in the air, he works hard, so he's got all of the attributes that are going to give him a pretty good chance to see some playing time at West Brom."
This isn't the first time Haber will make his way to Europe. Before joining the Whitecaps, he spent two seasons with the youth teams of Dutch club FC Groningen.
Internationally, Haber has made several appearances for Canadian youth sides, including playing in three games at the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, but he has yet to earn a cap for Canada's senior team.