There was not much good that Toronto FC could take from their 2-1 loss to the Chicago Fire on Saturday.
Their second league loss in a row, after a run of three successive victories, featured a blown lead, a red card and some disjoined play on the backline and in midfield.
But at least the Reds were able to bring big center forward Eric Hassli into the starting lineup for the game, and watched him play 60 minutes.
“Terrific,” concluded Paul Mariner of Hassli’s game. “His holdup play was terrific. He’s going to be great for us. People can’t handle him – he’s too strong. I took Eric off because we couldn’t get any more out of him. He hadn’t played for a while.”
It was Hassli’s first appearance for the Reds since he was acquired in a trade with the Vancouver Whitecaps on July 20. He had picked up an ankle injury in a July 14 game against the Fire while he was still with Vancouver.
He was on the bench for Wednesday’s 5-1 victory over CD Águila in last week’s CONCACAF Champions League group stage match at BMO Field, but never saw action. Mariner said he was being cautious with the French striker to avoid possibly aggravating the injury.
“The ankle held up pretty good,” Hassli said. “I need to work on my fitness because I have not played in a long time. The ankle is pretty good.”
The fit in Mariner’s scheme was pretty good, too.
“Yes, it’s great,” he said. “Everybody is working hard and communicating. It’s easy for me. I feel great in this system.”
Luis Silva, who had been paired with Ryan Johnson up front after Danny Koevermans suffered a season-ending knee injury on July 14, was able to return to midfield for the game in Chicago to make room for the big Frenchman.
Hassli’s debut might be considered positive but the result was not after TFC held a 1-0 lead at the half.
“Everybody is disappointed,” Hassli said. “I thought we did great in the first half. We just gave up set pieces and we have to learn, that’s it. Everybody is disappointed. We are looking forward to the next game against Columbus. We have to win there. We need to win. I hate to lose the game. Looking forward to the next game.”