Mad Frenchman saves Whitecaps from Cascadia disaster

June 12, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps Season 2011 | 7 Comments

It was a fantastic night of football in Seattle.  The Whitecaps went down for their first I-5 derby in Major League Soccer and came up with yet another draw. Thrilling draws seem to have become the Whitecaps specialty.  An away point in Seattle in front of 36.000 hostile fans is quite an accomplishment.  The 500 travelling Whitecaps supporters looked fantastic on TV, and one wonders when the Whitecaps are going to let the supporters bring flags and banners into Empire field.

Five years ago when we were at Swangard stadium watching with 4500 fans and visiting Seattle for games in front of  2500 fans who would have dreamed we would be playing away in Seattle today in front of 36,500?  If nothing else, tonight demonstrated the major leap forward the game has made in the Pacific Northwest.  It makes me shake my head and laugh in disbelief, but there it is!

To give Whitecaps coach Tommy Soehn credit where credit is due, the team looked like a very solid and resilient unit until the substitution of Chiumieto in the 73rd minute, when the whole thing appeared to fall apart. The Whitecaps were playing like a team which is hard to beat and leading the match 1-0. Whitecaps keeper Joe Cannon faltered coming out for a cross when the equalizer was scored in the 81st minute. In the confusion Akloul made a perfect flick-on header for Seattle’s striker Rosales to score the equalizer. It was questionable whether Cannon would have got to the ball, but changing his mind about coming for the cross put him out of position for the shot. Other than this mistake, it has to be said Cannon looked very good indeed, and I believe he is laying claim to the number one job.

Soehn made another dreadful tactical blunder which nearly cost us the match.  You will recall when he took a defender out for a midfielder with 20 minutes left against Salt Lake and we promptly conceded a goal within minutes, which put the match out of reach. In Seattle, we were 1-0 up with 15 minutes or so left when Soehn pulled Chiumiento and replaced him with Vagenas.  Ten minutes later we were down 2-1.  Vagenas handcuffed Jeb Brovsky with a hospital pass which led to Seattle’s second goal, putting us in a hole. The Whitecaps looked very solid and composed up to that point, and needed players on the field who could help the team keep possession. Chiumiento was doing exactly that and should have stayed on the pitch.  Vagenas not only did not help keep possession, he gave the ball wrapped in a red ribbon to the Seattle players several times. He must have thought he was playing for Seattle again! It was another poor substitution by Soehn which would have cost us the match if Hassli had not defied all logic and the laws of physics when he scored his stunning volley from an impossible angle.

Eric Hassli is quickly becoming a Vancouver Whitecaps FC legend.  His  goal which tied the game at 2 would grace any pitch in the world in any league.  It was a master work which can only be accomplished by a man with supreme confidence and ability.  He demonstrated the same confidence when he chipped a penalty just below the bar a la Zidane into Seattle’s net in the first half, after another tricky Camilo dribble into the penalty area drew a penalty. Camilo has become our chief penalty drawer. I’ll bet he is not pleased that Hassli gets to take all of the penalty kicks. I wonder how long it will be before Camilo grabs the ball and demands to take a penalty kick.

Tommy Soehn must be very happy he got Eric Hassli’s name on a contract, in spite of his lack of discipline.  The mad Frenchman’s miracle goal gave us (yet another) tie, stunning a smug Seattle crowd who sensed they had stolen a win.  It was a goal which will go down as one of the best memories of Vancouver Whitecaps history.

While there has been very little joy recently being a Whitecaps fan, this year is rapidly becoming the year of Eric Hassli. I can only return to my comparison of Hassli with another Whitecaps legend, Willie Johnston.  Not since wee Willie have we had such a controversial and brilliant figure on our team.  Hassli has provided drama, entertainment, insane stunts and some incredible football in a season which recently has taken a bad turn for the worse.

Long live Eric Hassli, the mad Frenchman. Long may he wear a Vancouver Whitecaps jersey!



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  1. On TV? Bah! You should’ve made the trip down the I-5 and joined us!

    The flags you saw at Qwest will be in Empire soon. They’ve just arrived, and the plastic poles & size make them allowable in Empire.

    Hassli rules! Sounders drool. Simple as that.

    • This isn’t an “I-5” derby. There is nothing called the I-5 in Canada. The I-5 Derby is played between Portland and Seattle.

      • Of course there is no I-5 in Canada, but the Whitecaps will be taking the I-5 to both Seattle and Portland, and vice versa, so matches between Portland, Seattle and the Whitecap are appropriately called I-5 derbies. You could also call them the Peace Arch derbies if you want! Or how about the Hwy 99 derbies, or Pacific Northwest Derbies. I prefer I-5 derby myself.

  2. After telling the kid beside me to STOP waving his CANUCKS Flag in front of me, (whilst I can aapreciate it at Rogers arena) NOT at a caps away game, In fact there needs to be some flag waving rules put down, a buch on idiots waving flags when were 3 feet from the other teams goal? What are we Chelsea fans?!?! , this is a serious issue , fine.. wave your dodgy flag when the opposition is attacking in our end, but NOT when the Caps are three feet from goal…enough said. In simple terms we should have won that match and yes, Eric Hassli saved Tom Sohen and the team, which again brings up why Teitur was sacked, I know feel Teitur was fighting a loosing battle and with Sohen there from day one in whatever capacity he was always gonna take over . With the exception of two or three matches this season we have been in a position to win each match , frankly i dont see us doing much under Sohen, this being said bring on Philly and finally a decent KO time Saturday night 7pm. Cmon you Whitecaps!!!!!!!!!!

    • You obviously haven’t seen a game at Chelsea recently if you think they are allowed to wave flags at Stamford Bridge.

      • Flag waving should be limited to before matches, half-time, after matches and after goals are scored

  3. I don’t know what to think about Soehn. I liked the starting 11 he put out against Seattle and his decision to play a 4-2-3-1, but his substitutions are just awful. As you said Veganes was utterly useless. Besides the 75th min is far to early to take off your key possession player in such a close game. Maybe if we had a big game Wednesday or something I could understand wanting to rest Chuimentio, but only then.

    Oh, and what do people think of Soehn’s switching of the wingers? I don’t get it. It just seems to discombobulate our players.

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