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Whitecaps (Inexplicably) Release RB Wes Knight

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Goodnight, sweet prince.
Goodnight, sweet prince.

Today, the Vancouver Whitecaps announced that they have waived right back/right midfielder Wes Knight.

The 24-year-old Knight is one of the most popular Whitecaps in recent history: he was voted the team's fan favourite in 2010 and is well-known for always taking time to talk with any fan who approaches him. He was a leader on the field, a good, quick right back with decent positional sense and arguably a better defensive fullback than the incumbent starter Jonathan Leathers. His results in MLS were mixed but he had moments of genius and he was such a key player with the 2010 Whitecaps that last November I nominated him as our first MLS captain.

Thanks to the (equally inexplicable) release of Mouloud Akloul earlier this season, the team was already short-handed on defense. It's too late in the season to gain salary cap relief, and even if it wasn't Knight made an insignificant $50,000 in the 2011 season. The Whitecaps have two roster slots available and no hope of a playoff run.

In short, the only way the Whitecaps could gain anything (and I mean anything) by waiving Knight is if they sign three new players. Even if they do, they'd be better-served cutting the truly useless Bilal Duckett rather than the quality depth player Knight. But, then, Tom Soehn drafted Duckett, so he must be a player worth keeping.

Even those who think Knight isn't good enough for MLS will hopefully acknowledge that he's had some good performances: a few in MLS but particularly in the second division. With Martin Rennie coming at the end of the season and Knight having played some solid games against the Carolina Railhawks, you think they'd want the new boss to have a chance with a young, potentially useful player. I think Knight is a quality squad player who had some good games in MLS under Teitur Thordarson but was cast off by Tom Soehn probably because he isn't one of Soehn's "boys".

Hopefully this move isn't what it looks like: hopefully Wes has a big career move lined up and the Whitecaps were doing a favour for a depth player by releasing him with no strings attached. Releasing a player they had no plans for because he had a better opportunity elsewhere would be a class act by the Whitecaps and worthy of applause. It's difficult to think of any other worthy reason to cut Knight loose.

Whatever the reason, the team now has three roster slots available that they've shown little sign of using. They have only three fullbacks on the roster; Jordan Harvey, Alain Rochat, and Jonathan Leathers. Jeb Brovsky has been playing right back in the past two months and doing so appallingly, so deep was Soehn's ignorance and so desperate was this team.

I do hope this release was for Wes's sake and we see him surface elsewhere in glory (perhaps in Finland, where other ignorantly cast-off players like Randy Edwini-Bonsu and Luca Bellisomo are achieving success). He was a hard worker and a class act. He seemed to view interacting with the fans as part of his job, as much as winning tackles or training hard. More than that, he seemed to enjoy every minute of it. There was never any question that Knight was giving an honest effort. Not many cities are lucky enough to have athletes like Knight around. Now Vancouver isn't either.

Good luck, Wes. You deserve it.