Eric Hassli apologizes to FC Dallas fans after losing much of 2013, vows to drive playoff push

FRISCO, Texas – First impressions are important, but Eric Hassli may be hoping that FC Dallas fans and front office take more of a "what have you done for me lately?" approach when looking at his 2013 season.

“I feel I let the team down because I didn’t play my best soccer and I wasn’t healthy 100 percent,” the French striker told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “I apologize to everybody who believes in me. First the owners, the coaching staff, my teammates, that I haven’t scored yet. I honestly think I can play 100 times better, it just depends on my body.”

Hassli has not played due to recurring back problems since he put in 89 minutes against Montreal Impact on July 20. The injury got so bad that for a time he was having difficulty walking, but thanks to two cortisone injections and extensive work with the FC Dallas trainers, Hassli is back to participating in full practices and is eager to make up for what he calls “my worst season.” 

At this point, the best way for him to do that is by scoring timely goals and helping FC Dallas reach the postseason.

“I don’t want to spend my third year [in MLS] not going to the playoffs,” said Hassli. “When you are competitive, all you want is to go and play those games. You have your whole season, 34 games, and the playoffs are like everybody has a chance to win the MLS Cup. I just want to go there, be there and everything can happen.”

With Blas Pérez off with Panama for their vital World Cup qualifiers and Kenny Cooper suspended for the red card he received in FC Dallas’ last match against San Jose, Saturday night’s clash with the Vancouver Whitecaps (8:30 pm ET, MLS Free Stream of the Week) will provide a great opportunity for the big Frenchman to open his FCD account – even if he’s not likely to play the whole match.

“I don’t think he’s a 90-minutes healthy player,” head coach Schellas Hyndman admitted to reporters on Thursday. "We’re hoping for a good 60-70."

If Hassli is unable to go or his minutes end up being even more limited, Fabián Castillo or Jackson are likely next in line get looks up top in an attempt to stretch the Whitecaps defense and make space for secondary runs by David Ferreira, Mauro Díaz and the rest of the midfield.

Forward Jonathan Top, who is yet to appear for Dallas this season, is likely to make the bench and could also be in line for second-half minutes against Vancouver, a position Top is familiar with.  The Homegrown player scored his only career MLS goal as a substitute against the Whitecaps last August.