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Blast Forward to Join MLS’ Vancouver Whitecaps FC
BALTIMORE, Md. — Baltimore Blast president and general manager Kevin Healey announced Dec. 16 the team will release forward Matt Watson to enable him to sign a contract with Major League Soccer club Vancouver Whitecaps FC, effective Jan. 1.
Watson, who is playing his fifth season in Baltimore, will play his last game with the Blast Dec. 31. A member of Baltimore’s 2008 and 2009 championship teams, Watson has four goals and two assists for 10 points in seven games this season.
He began his indoor career with the Blast in 2006-07 and has spent the last four outdoor seasons with the NASL’s Carolina RailHawks. He was a 2011 NASL Best 11 pick en route to an NASL championship appearance. Watson has recorded 82 points in 80 Blast games, averaging just over a point a game for his career (34 goals, 11 assists). Before joining the Blast, Watson played collegiate soccer at UMBC where he was the 2004 and 2005 America East Conference Midfielder of the Year.
“Matt always had our word that if he was able to secure an MLS contract that we would allow him to move to the MLS,” said Healey. “We are very happy for Matt and thank him for his contributions to the Blast. We wish him the best of luck and are confident that he will do well in Vancouver.”
Whitecaps FC, who have been in existence since 1974, played their inaugural season in MLS in 2011 and went 6-18-10 in the Western Conference. Vancouver will open the 2012 season at home on March 10 against the Montreal Impact.
“I’m delighted to have an opportunity to play for the Vancouver Whitecaps and I look forward to being part of such a prestigious club,” Watson said. “I’m fortunate that since I started my career all the organizations I’ve played for have been synonymous with success and professionalism and I know Vancouver is no different. The Richmond Kickers, Carolina RailHawks and Baltimore Blast — I owe all these clubs a lot.
“Baltimore means a lot to me for many reasons personally and professionally: I met my wife here, I went to school at UMBC, I started my career here and I won two indoor championships here — it’s really my home away from home. I wish the team luck and I know they’re capable of winning this championship. I thank Kevin Healey for allowing me to take this chance, as well as Danny Kelly and David Bascome. The fan support here is phenomenal and honestly there is no other MISL fans as dedicated as the ones in Baltimore!”
The Blast, 5-3 and in first place in the Eastern Conference, has three games remaining in 2011. The Blast will host the Missouri Comets tonight in Watson’s last home game, then will travel to Norfolk to face the SharX Dec. 18 and to Milwaukee to take on the Wave on New Year’s Eve.
Blast five-game mini plans are on sale now through the Blast office. The Blast, 0-3 at home, is looking for their first home win and to match the success they’ve had on the road (5-0).