The Jacob Lensky Saga, Part XXIII: You Can Check Out Any Time You Like (But You Can Never Leave)

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In a week of roster turnover we have word of a more minor and, in its own way, more interesting move. Vancouver-born one-time Czech U-21 international Jacob Lensky, ex- of Feyenoord and FC Utrecht, is back in training with Vancouver per TSN play-by-play man Luke Wileman. Colin Illingworth of Square Football reports that the Whitecaps are "waiting for clearance" to give Lensky a contract.

This is Lensky's third trial with the Whitecaps. His first, in early 2009, was a brief look at a local boy by Teitur Thordarson which ended when Lensky bounced off to Seattle to try out for the Sounders, then back to the Netherlands for a trial and soon a contract with FC Utrecht. His second was back in April under Martin Rennie, where he appeared in part of one MLS Reserves match before leaving.

I won't bore you by recapping each of the myriad articles I've written about Lensky; suffice to say that the "part XXIII" in the title is less of an exaggeration than you probably think it is. I find him fascinating, as an incredible talent who gives the public impression of being mentally distressed, as somebody who turned his back on the Canadian men's national team after a few years of quality youth service in an almost cavalier way to play for the Czech Republic's U-21 program and never got a sniff after his one nationality-altering appearance, and somebody who at age 23 has retired from professional soccer twice only to resurface, every single time.

I will also say that this latest return for Lensky is almost a surprise. That one MLS Reserves game he appeared in this year was an unmitigated disaster. You could see Lensky's skill, which was no surprise to anybody with a brain, but his fitness wasn't even amateur-grade. Lensky came on in the second half, had a few semi-promising touches, faded fast, and didn't last twenty minutes before he was out, spending the rest of the evening on the sideline at Swangard Stadium getting oxygen from paramedics. It can't have helped that, according to scuttlebutt, the Sounders still owned Lensky's MLS discovery rights.

Possibly Martin Rennie told Lensky to come back when he was in shape and Lensky has done just that. A determined, dedicated Lensky with his head on straight would be a formidable asset. Two better teams than Vancouver resolved to take the chance and both wound up regretting it.

What an obvious talent but what a massive risk; one not worth taking for a team that doesn't really need the help. For long-suffering Canada fans who've endured not one Canadian seeing a blade of first-team grass this season, Lensky on the left wing ahead of Russell Teibert might drive them over the edge. Even apart from that, this is a clearly unwell young man whose every exposure to professional soccer has ended in heartbreak and personal problems, including treatment for alcoholism in Utrecht.

Lensky's a hard man to hate but an easy one to pity, no matter how much he disdains it, and that's not somebody Whitecaps fans should be eager to see on their team.

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