Hassli joy is short livedMay 20, 2011 at 6:01 am | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2011 | 5 Comments
The Nutrilite Canadian Championship is coming up against some pretty tough competition from Canadian Hockey teams. Where as we usually have to jostle to get in to Empire Field, we breezed through the front gates and walked unmolested to our seats, because people chose to watch the Canucks and Sharks instead of coming to the footy match. I would say there were no more than 7 or 8000 people at Empire if that, though 15,000 tickets were bought through season ticket holders. A bad night indeed for the scalpers who could not give their tickets away. It was rather like the first Nutrilite game against the Impact in Montreal when the Bruins and the Habs were at it at the same time in the seventh game of the first round of the NHL playoffs.
Having started so poorly in Major League Soccer, and sitting at the bottom of the league, qualifying for the CONCACAF Champions League has become a priority for the Vancouver Whitecaps. If the Whitecaps can make the Champion’s League group stages, it would be a major coup for the team, and would satisfy the fans. It would also keep the Whitecaps playing matches in the off-season which will be good for our squad, who might otherwise be sitting idle during the all too long MLS layoff. The MLS off-season goes on for months. Sitting idle is not good for footballers. In Europe they are lucky to get three weeks off.
The Match ended 1-1 against Canadian rivals Toronto Football Club. The Whitecaps dominated the match and created plenty of chances, but crossbars, goal posts and shocking misses put an end to the dream of a win. The result left us at a disadvantage with Toronto in the lead because of an away goal to their credit. The Whitecaps must score goals in Toronto to win.
While we are all pleased to have our Captain Jay DeMerit back and fit, he had a bit of a nightmare as two errors, one at the back and one at the front, gave the win away. DeMerit tired as the game went on, was beaten cleanly twice at the back later on in the game. One of these occasions led to TFC’s tying goal. Worse still was a shocking miss where he was all alone on goal with a free header off of Chiumiento’s perfectly placed cross. He headed across the goal wide rather than just hitting it in the net. Jay’s timing and fitness are still not 100%, and, had he not been so crucial to our team, he would have been taken off because he ran out of gas. Teitur probably left him in so he can develop match fitness. In any event, Jay’s execution on the night was not the best, as I am sure he would be the first to admit.
Eric Hassli scored a beauty, and what a relief it was for all of us to see him score. The goal, which came in the 65th minute or so after a long and sustained period of pressure from the Caps, was started by a brilliant throw-out by Jay Nolly to Chiumiento. Chiumiento counter attacked quickly, and fed the ball to Hassli. Hassli put a move on a TFC defender, created some room for himself and hit a powerful left-footed curling shot into the far corner.
Hassli’s joy was short lived. Ten minutes later a defensive lapse cost us the win, as both Demerit and Janicki lost their concentration on the goal. Demerit lost track of his man out on the right flank and was well beaten by an over head flick by TFC’s winger. The resulting cross was flicked into the far corner by Santos, who was Janicki’s mark. Just like that it was 1-1, and despite our usual last minute heroics, notably by Rochat who nearly won us the game with a header in extra time, that is the way it remained.
We are now up against it for the second leg next week and it means winning the match in enemy territory in Toronto. The Whitecaps must score so will have to attack. This will leave us vulnerable on the counter-attack. Last night’s game proved we have the capability to create scoring chances, and, who knows, if we play the same way we might just get some luck and beat TFC by a few goals.