Hassli delivers on fans', teammates' expectations

Eric Hassli celebrates with Davide Chiumiento.

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VANCOUVER, B.C. – In the week leading up to the match, nearly every Vancouver Whitecaps FC player was in agreement on who they thought would score the first-ever goal for the club: Eric Hassli.

The French striker made good on those predictions in Saturday's MLS debut victory over Toronto FC. Hassli netted the Whitecaps' first-ever goal, poaching home in the 15th minute against Toronto and sending the crowd of 22,592 into a frenzy. Then for good measure, he closed out the scoring in the 74th minute with an easy
tap-in from a Wes Knight pass.

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“I knew if I used my speed to get in behind it could cause some
problems,” said Knight. “At first in my mind I wanted to shoot, but it
was too easy with Eric coming in for the finish.”

The only other names that were mentioned by the Whitecaps roster as possibilities to bag the first-ever team goal were Terry Dunfield, Atiba Harris and Greg Janicki. While they may not have scored the first, Dunfield and Harris both got on the scoreboard, while an injury kept Janicki from having a shot at completing a clean sweep of predictions.

The night was especially memorable for Dunfield, a Vancouver native who’s spent the past decade playing in England.

“It was incredible,” said the midfielder. “To do it in front of all these Vancouver fans, it was a special day. I had north of 50 family and friends in the crowd today.”

Harris, meanwhile, formed a menacing partnership up top with Hassli. The lanky forward had several chances throughout the match and finally put the ball in the net when the ball fell graciously to him off of a Teibert corner kick in the 64th minute.

“The pair of them are going to be a handful if they can carry on what they did today,” said Dunfield. “It’s easy to do it in one game, but hopefully we can continue it over the course of the season.”

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