VANCOUVER, B.C. — Vancouver’s Eric Hassli was named to Major League Soccer’s inactive All-Star roster on Monday, and at training on Tuesday, his Whitecaps teammates couldn’t say enough good things about the striker.
“Everyone has seen what Eric Hassli can do,” defender Wes Knight told MLSsoccer.com. “Unfortunately, they don’t get to see it on a day-to-day basis like we do. He’s just an incredible player and one of the best strikers in this league and it’s great for him to get that [honor].”
As a member of the inactive All-Star roster, Hassli won't participate in the match against Manchester United. But it is still a special honor, as the inactive roster is voted on by the league's players.
The former FC Zürich striker and current Whitecaps Designated Player has consistently made the headlines this season, although not always for the right reasons. But after some disciplinary problems early on, he has settled down and his current goals-to-games-played ratio of eight in 14 MLS matches played is among the best in the league.
Hassli is tied for fourth place in the race for the Golden Boot with two other players with eight goals, sitting behind Brek Shea (FC Dallas) and Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy) with nine goals apiece and Thierry Henry (New York), who leads the league with 11.
The All-Star nod is the latest honor for the Sarreguemines, France, native. Earlier this month, Hassli attended the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles following a nomination for Best Play of the Year for his remarkable strike against the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field on June 11.
But attacking midfielder Davide Chiumiento feels there’s still more to come from his teammate.
“He deserves it,” Chiumiento said when speaking about Hassli’s All-Star honor. “He’s played well. He’s scored eight goals and he’s played only 15 or 16 games [including Nutrilite Canadian Championship play]. But he knows he can give even more with his qualities. He’s such a good player and it’s great to have him here.”
The key for the Whitecaps now is transforming Hassli’s individual brilliance into a tangible resource for achieving team success.
“Individually, things have gone well for him, but now what we need to do is turn that into a collective thing that the team benefits from,” head coach Tom Soehn said. “We’re continuing to grow and transitioning to a new identity. We’ll get a good chance to show that off this weekend against LA Galaxy.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @martinmacmahon