TAMPA, FL – United Soccer Leagues announced the Finalists for the 2009 USL First Division Rookie of the Year award Wednesday, unveiling Austin’s Sullivan Silva and the Vancouver duo of Marcus Haber and Wesley Knight as the candidates for the honor.
Haber, Silva and Knight had breakout first seasons
The expansion Austin Aztex were comprised of plenty of newcomers to the professional game in 2009 with Silva standing above the rest of his squad with his flair up top. In the midst of a youth movement, the defending champion Whitecaps pushed numerous newcomers into starting roles this season with Haber making an impact offensively and Knight providing excellent defensive and offensive contributions.
The finalists and award winners were determined by a vote from the league’s coaches and general managers. The Rookie of the Year will be announced Friday in Vancouver at the USL-1 Championship Series kick-off media conference. The finalists for USL-1 Most Valuable Player will be announced Thursday with the winner being announced Friday, October 16 in Montreal at the USL-1 Championship Series banquet along with the Coach of the Year and Defender of the Year honors.
Marcus Haber (Vancouver Whitecaps)
After spending time abroad in Europe under a youth contract, Haber returned to North America to sign for the Whitecaps and became an immediate success for the club. He was one of only seven players in the league to take the field all 30 matches this season, playing 2,048 minutes, and was tied for seventh in the league in goals (8) and points (20). He also had four assists.
Wesley Knight (Vancouver Whitecaps)
A rookie hailing from the Bradenton Academics of the Premier Development League, the defender/midfielder played a key role in the back as the club went through several changes throughout the campaign defensively. He played in 29 games for 2,231 minutes, the third most on the team. He also contributed eight assists, which earned him a share of the USL-1 Assist Leader award.
Sullivan Silva (Austin Aztex)
Injuries hampered the striker’s numbers for the year, but Silva left an impression in his 24 games as he was a regular menace on the flanks for the expansion club. The Brazilian out of Oklahoma Baptist University finished the year with three goals and two assists, but regularly drew out defenders because of his skill on the ball, creating space for his counterparts up top.