The most exiting player of Vancouver Whitecaps 2011: Eric Hassli

December 28, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2011 | 3 Comments

Watching your football team lose game after game is a terrible, soul destroying business.  The Whitecaps started 2011 with some exhilarating football, and the man who drove it along for the brief period when it all looked good, was Eric Hassli.

The nutter we love: Eric Hassli

The mad Frenchman brought us the most delight of any player on the pitch.  While the club made American Jay DeMerit captain of the team and its chosen star, the fans chose Eric Hassli instead.  While DeMerit struggled with injury and poor form, Hassli brought buckets of controversy and passion to the team: he was the hit of 2011.

Hassli started by scoring two goals in the Whitecaps first match in Major League Soccer, and immediately became a club legend.   He then got sent off in his next match.  While coaches hate to see players get sent off, we fans like someone who is willing to get nasty for the team: Hassli has mean and nasty in abundance.  He broke a player’s nose in the home match against New England, and generally threw himself about with abandon.

After getting sent off in the second match of the season against Philadelphia, Hassli got sent off again in the fourth match against New England when he threw his jersey into the crowd after scoring on a penalty when he was already on a yellow.  At the time, we all questioned his sanity, and the Whitecaps appeared to have  nightmare on their hands: their designated player could not keep himself on the pitch.  Hassli was a powder keg.

Hassli paid the club off for their patience with goals in early and mid season, including an incredible cracker of a goal to save the match on the road against the Seattle Sounders.

He scored two goals against the Chicago Fire on August 7th at home, but that was it for 2011.  For the last third of the season, Hassli went off the boil, and could not score goals.  Stories of personal problms and domestic issues surfaced.  His explosive emotional side surfaced again in the away match against the Portland Timbers on August 27 when he stormed off to the dressing room after being substituted.  After this incident, he rarely looked dangerous in front of goal again and could not score. It has to be said that Hassli looked disinterested at this point, and towards the end of the season was benched more often than not.

It remains to be seen whether the Whitecaps can get the best out of Hassli in 2012.  I, for one, am pulling for the big man to return the early season form he had in 2011.  For new coach Martin Rennie, Hassli will be the biggest man-management challenge  he will face.  How can he get Hassli to play with emotion and aggressiveness without going overboard and getting sent off on a regular basis?  Can he keep Hassli interested?  If Rennie can keep Hassli on the pitch and scoring, we will be well on our way to a successful 2012.

It is no coincidence that the most talented players often have a dark side which makes them  frustratingly unpredictable.  With Hassli, the very quality  of emotion which makes him play well is the same quality which gets him into disciplinary trouble.  Hassli plays emotionally on the razor’s edge, which is what makes him so exciting to watch and a fan favourite.

When I look at our current roster, the player who is most likely to give the fans the football thrills and chills we all want in 2012 remains Eric Hassli.

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3 Comments »

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  1. Yes he is exciting but he gave up in the kast third of the season and unless it is because of a personal tragedy (eg like the unthinkable nightmare that hit wesley charles)..he lost my respect completely. Three players simply never gave up during 60 minutes or all season. Camilo,rochat,koffie. THE only three that would start on pretty much any team in the MLS…professional,never give up and stat near top form throughout. THE only three. HASSLI needs to prove he deserves to be a professionsal.

    • I agree with you. With his talent, the only thing that is holding him back is his character. He needs to work on that…

  2. Though it’s an old thread, I’ll add my .02 on the topic. I believe that it would be best to wait out 2012 before drawing conclusions. People tend to underestimate how very difficult it is to adjust to life in a completely different culture — let alone to living in an environment where you barely understand the language, and can’t speak it at all.

    Hassli was born and raised in France, but played for a few years in Switzerland, for FC Zurich — a relative stone’s throw away from his homeland, and in a city where finding someone who speaks French isn’t almost impossible, like it is here.

    I had the pleasure of living in Zurich for 15 years, and the opportunity to see Hassli play on a number of occasions. Suffice it to say that when news broke that he was coming here to play, I wore my orange FCZ away jersey for a week straight.

    But I also remember how tough life was in the first year or two of my extended European adventure. There are a myriad of everyday activities that we all engage in without even thinking about it — more or less on autopilot: getting the shopping done, picking up tall latte, and catching the latest news. These become a LOT more difficult when you’re constantly battling a language barrier, all while hoping you can find your way back to your apartment ok.

    The Whitecap I’d be more concerned about is Chumiento. His adjustment appears to have been much easier (at least linguistically), but his performance dipped faster than a Christiano Ronaldo free kick from about the midway point in the season. When DC is really on his game, his agility and technical prowess as an attacking midfielder opens things up big time for the front pairing. When Chumiento was sitting out, the ‘Caps lost that dimension completely, and their transitions became plodding, far less dynamic, and their attack became much more predictable.


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