That is why Eric Hassli is a Designated Player.
Facing the possibility of a deflating loss, the big Frenchman unleashed a jaw-dropping volley to rescue a 2-2 draw for Vancouver Whitecaps FC in their first Cascadia Cup clash in MLS against Seattle Sounders FC at Qwest Field on Saturday night. And, if Whitecaps FC defender and close friend Alain Rochat is right, we’re all going to see more of the same thing.
“It’s just the beginning,” Rochat said after the match. “We’re about to see the real Eric Hassli.”
WATCH HIGHLIGHTS: Seattle 2, Vancouver 2
That’s good news for a side that remains mired in a 13-game winless streak, especially on a night when they seemed to have three points in the offing after they played what might have been their best half on the road this season.
“I felt the first 45 was fantastic,” head coach Tom Soehn said. “We did very well with our shape and organization and possession in the first half.”
Through seven MLS road matches this season, Vancouver had yet to take the lead away from home. But they finally got that particular monkey off their back when Camilo was taken down in the box by Osvaldo Alonso in the 28th minute. Hassli buried the ensuing spot kick to give the Whitecaps a 1-0 lead, much to the joy of the over 500 traveling fans in attendance.
The ‘Caps seemingly gained confidence after the goal and, though pressured in the second half, looked to be on their way to ending their 13-game winless streak. That was until two quick goals from Seattle in the 81st and 84th minutes suddenly left them trailing 2-1.
But that only set the scene for Hassli’s wonder goal. Less than a minute after the Sounders took the lead, the Frenchman struck a goal that mesmerized even those who meant to stop such things.
“It was unreal,” said defender Jonathan Leathers. “I don’t think I’ve seen a better goal. It came completely by surprise.”
“You could have put two goalies in there,” said Whitecaps ‘keeper Joe Cannon. “I don’t think I’ve seen a goal from that angle like that. That’s got to be one of the world’s top goals of the year.”
Though the winless streak remains intact, Vancouver did manage to counter a sudden shift in momentum to salvage a point.
“We still have to do it over 90 minutes,” Soehn said. “But we definitely feel as if we’re heading in the right direction. We can build off this.”