Charles and Martin back to defend title

Vancouver Whitecaps FC have announced that they have exercised the contract options of defenders Wesley Charles and Lyle Martin for the 2009 season. Both played crucial roles in leading the men's team to the 2008 United Soccer Leagues First Division (USL-1) championship title. Charles is returning for a second season, while Martin will be entering his third year as a member of the Whitecaps. Charles, 33-years-old, earned a place in the USL-1 All-League Second Team after making a significant impact at centre back during the second half of the season. The defender, who has 93 caps as a member of the Saint Vincent & the Grenadines national team, joined the 'Caps on July 11 after impressing head coach Teitur Thordarson during FIFA World Cup qualifying versus Canada back in June. A veteran of the League of Ireland and Russian club FC Rostov, Charles started all but one of his 18 appearances for 1,490 minutes. This included five starts during the club's playoff run this past autumn. The Caribbean native also recorded an assist during the 3-2 away defeat to Atlanta on August 5. Martin, 23, made great strides in his second season as a professional. The Bakersfield, California, native started all but two of the 33 matches he appeared in during the 2008 campaign. This included starts in all four Nutrilite Canadian Championship contests and five starts in the club's successful playoff run. A free agent signing with Vancouver on March 26, 2007, Martin has made 57 appearances for a total of 4,480 minutes in two seasons with the club. The California State University – Bakersfield product scored his first goal for the 'Caps on August 27 when he struck the match-winner in a 2-0 defeat of Atlanta Silverbacks at Swangard Stadium. In his rookie season in 2007, Martin's performances earned him the Whitecaps Newcomer of the Year award. Whitecaps 2009 season tickets are now on sale. Season tickets include all men’s and women's team regular season and playoff home matches at Swangard Stadium, Nutrilite Canadian Championship home matches against Toronto FC and Montreal Impact, as well as priority listing for BC Place and the proposed Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium. For more information on the 2009 season ticket packages, call 604.669.WAVE (9283) or visit CLICK HERE.