Hassli back as Whitecaps stuff San Jose

May 6, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps Season 2012 | 2 Comments

Tonight’s 2-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes was a watershed match for Martin Rennie’s Vancouver Whitecaps side. The Whitecaps gelled as a team, playing like a team whose players know one another well.  The depth of the squad was demonstrated when two substitutes, Hassli and Chiumiento, combined for the match winner in the last seconds of the game. The game marked the return from injury for the great Alain Rochat, who lifted the team with his presence and skill.

Back from injury: Alain Rochat

The hope for the future of the Whitecap’s squad was confirmed this afternoon as Gershon Koffie and Omar Salgado both played superb games. Koffie was man of the match, while Salgado had his best match in a Whitecaps uniform looking more confident than ever before.  

The match did not start well for the Caps, however. The ghost-like Wondolowski scored yet another goal for San Jose on fifteen minutes. How it is that the hottest striker in the league can make his way into the penalty box without anyone knowing is beyond me. YP Lee was his victim this time around as “Wando” crept up behind him at the far post to head in a perfect cross from the superb Marvin Chavez after 15 minutes.

Men of the match: Hassli, Chiumiento, Koffie

The Whitecaps fought back with pride, and five minutes before half time Omar Salgado’s hard work on the left flank earned a free kick for the Caps. It was our young star Koffie who brought the whitecaps back to level terms on 40 minutes. Camillo, the team’s self appointed dead ball man, curled in a deadly cross for Koffie to nod in. Koffie is usually a nightmare in front of goal, but he finished it well. He nearly scored again early in the second half driving a low shot which brought a fine save from San Jose’s keeper Busch.

In the second half San Jose hunkered down in their own half and tried to tempt the Whitecaps deep into their end hoping to counter attack and steal the match. It nearly worked, as keeper Joe Cannon had to be at his best to gather some dangerous efforts, one in particular from Chavez.

Late in the match San Jose went forward more and the match turned into a thrilling end-to-end contest. The Earthquakes tried to kill the game by having half their team play dead on the field in order to kill the clock. Mercifully, it did not work.

“Are you really dead?”

It was substitutes Hassli and Chiumineto who conspired to put San Jose to the sword. It was lucky for Hassli, who had just fluffed what appeared to be the last chance to win the game in injury time while failing to spot an onrushing John Thorrington who had an easy tap in.

Six Whitecaps were involved in the move that led to the winning goal with 30 seconds left. It started at the back with DeMerit and went through Davidson, Koffie, Lee, Chiumiento, and finally Hassli. Hassli spotted San Jose’s right fullback had forgotten to move forward with the defensive line, and crept behind their center backs. Chiumiento spotted him and threaded the ball through. The ball took a deflection off of a defender, but then dribbled through to Hassli, who was all on his own. The defender got back and put his foot in front of Hassli’s foot, but Hassli was so determined to score he practically tore the defender’s leg off in hitting the ball. The keeper Busch got his hand to the shot but could only knock it on to the post; the ball then deflected into the net. It was pandemonium at BC Place. It was a great moment marking the 38th anniversary of the Whitecaps first ever match in 1974 (against San Jose!).

“Did we really beat them 38 years ago?”

It was unquestionably the best game of the season to watch. The Whitecaps showed great character in coming back and winning the game after giving up an early goal. Better still, the team is no longer playing like a team of strangers. The players now are able to anticipate where their teamates will run, and the passing and possession part of the ‘Caps game has improved exponentially. When Barry Robson arrives this summer, we could be the class of Major League Soccer.

One legend hugs another: Valentine and Hassli

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2 Comments »

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  1. “Better still, the team is no longer playing like a team of strangers.”

    That was a huge, huge, difference-maker on Saturday. For the first time, they played from the same page — giveaways were way, way down, and build-up and possession stats were much more favourable for the Whitecaps.

    Wish I’d been watching at the stadium instead of at home.

    • Too bad indeed, it was the best game all year! It was a giant leap forward for the team as a whole, and for individual players (Koffie and Salgado in particular). If we can avoid injuries, we will do some serious damage this year.


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