Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Whitecaps release Wesley Charles

For a while, it looked like the Wesley Charles-Charles Gbeke incident had been completely settled. The Whitecaps' long break helped, and the two even took a pre-game lap of the stadium together before the team's next home match. Today, though, another incident happened and the Whitecaps immediately released Charles. Here's the press release sent out this morning by Nathan Vanstone, the Whitecaps' manager, broadcast and communications:


VANCOUVER, BC - Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced today that defender Wesley Charles has been released by the club.

During Tuesday’s training session, Charles took exception to a tackle by fellow defender Jeff Parke and attempted to strike Parke. Charles was immediately dismissed from the grounds and training resumed.

'This is the second incident between Wesley Charles and a teammate in just over a month, and as a result, we have decided to release Charles outright,' explained Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi. 'As a club, we do not condone any violence on or off the pitch, and take such actions very seriously.'

On June 12, during the latter stages of a Whitecaps home match versus Miami FC Blues, Charles was involved in an on-field incident with teammate Charles Gbeke. As a result of the altercation, Charles and Gbeke received monetary fines and were suspended for two matches.

Charles joined the Whitecaps on July 11, 2008, and played in 33 matches for 2,785 minutes of action over two half-seasons with the club. Prior to his move to the Whitecaps, Charles spent 11 seasons in the League of Ireland."

That's quite the story. For one thing, Charles was an assistant captain with the club this year. For another, he was a first-choice centre back and a rock in the middle of the Whitecaps' defence. Their depth on defence is perhaps weaker than at any other position, so his loss will certainly hurt the team. Charles has always been a vocal guy, but prior to the Gbeke incident, I can't remember reading much about him that was negative.

The Whitecaps made the right move in my mind, though. One brawl between teammates was bad enough; two is ridiculous, especially when the same player is involved. Such incidents are a huge black eye for the club and make them look unprofessional. Moreover, Parke and Charles have to be completely in sync for the team to have success on defence; that's not too likely if one of them's trying to punch the other out. Charles' loss will hurt, but it's a necessary pill to swallow. The Whitecaps' defence may be weaker in the short term, but their team will likely be stronger, and that's important.

[Cross-posted to The 24th Minute]

Update: The Province has a good piece on the matter from Marc Weber. One of the potential replacements he mentions is Gerard Ladiyou from York University, who's certainly an intriguing option; I saw him play at the OUA provincials two years ago and was very impressed. He's got height and speed, and is skilled at the back but can be dangerous going forward as well. He's in on trial at the moment, and would be an excellent signing in my mind. It sounds like Nigerian Ndubuisi Onwuatuegwu is the likely immediate replacement for Charles, though.

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