VANCOUVER, B.C. – Eric Hassli has been one of the most exciting additions to Major League Soccer this season, but he’s found himself in a bit of a rut lately.
The Vancouver Whitecaps’ 1-0 loss to the Portland Timbers on Sunday marked the seventh consecutive match in which the hulking Frenchman has failed to find the target, equaling a seven-game scoreless drought earlier this season.
After the game, Hassli, in his ever-improving English, wasn’t pointing fingers at anybody but himself.
“I have great service,” Hassli told MLSsoccer.com following the match. “Look – tonight I have two, three, four good chances – it’s my problem.”
“I missed the target,” he continued. “It’s not my teammates, my teammates did a great job, they gave me great balls and I didn’t score.”
Players mentioned following the match the ball was sticking a bit on the new turf, but Hassli wasn’t using that as an excuse either.
“It’s a little bit too sticky,” Hassli said of the turf. “But, it’s not a problem – it’s sticky for 22 players on the field.”
A big talking point going into Sunday’s match was the wider pitch at BC Place, and whether or not it would benefit the Whitecaps.
“We have more space – it’s better for Shea [Salinas], because he’s fast,” Hassli said. “It’s good, we just need to play five, six games on this pitch – I think it will be better next year.”
While the bigger field should suit a number of the team’s speedier attackers in theory, it seems there’ll be a bit of an adjustment period as players adapt to the increased width.
“It was tough to get into this game,” Salinas said. “I’m not sure if it was the size of the pitch that everyone wasn’t connected, but the guys we need to get on the ball weren’t finding the ball as often, and once that happens, it’s tough to get the flow going.”
“We’ve got to find a way to get our playmakers the ball – we’ve gotta get Hassli the ball to his feet, we’ve gotta get Davide [Chiumiento] the ball, and we’ve gotta get Camilo the ball where he can take guys on,” Salinas continued. “We just didn’t get them in good positions tonight – whether that’s their movement or our lack of ability on finding them, that’s something we’ve gotta do better.”