TORONTO – Eric Hassli said he is happy with life in Toronto, he likes head coach Paul Mariner and hopes to return next season.
Now the ball’s in TFC’s court.
“I think we’re closer to a final decision,” director of team and player operations Earl Cochrane told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday. “But because we don’t have to make a final decision today means that we can still mull it over for maybe a week to 10 days.”
The team has a club option for Hassli’s services for next season.
“I’m pretty confident for next season, because I’m really happy here,” Hassli said at the end of the season media conference.
The 31-year-old French striker was obtained on July 20 from the Vancouver Whitecaps after striker Danny Koevermans picked up a season-ending knee injury. But then the injury bug bit again, as Hassli was limited to seven league games for Toronto, producing three goals.
“I had some injuries, I’m disappointed especially for the coach,” Hassli said. “He wanted me, he wanted me to play and I didn’t play so much. I’m sorry for the club and especially for him”
Retaining Hassli would give TFC coverage at striker until Koevermans returns in April or May from surgery for a torn ACL. And beyond that point, it could give Koevermans a permanent partner up top.
Hassli, for one, thinks it could work.
“Yeah I think,” Hassli said. “He’s a great player, great ability. Everybody knows Danny, he’s one of the top scorers. Even in Europe he has nothing to prove. He scores like every year 15 or 20 goals. I don’t know, he can play with everybody.”
Toronto have yet to make the playoffs in six seasons and Vancouver made the playoffs in their second season but Hassli, sounding like he expects to be back, said the Reds are close to contending for a postseason spot.
“I don’t think we are so far from the playoffs,” he said. “Last year with Vancouver, we were the worst team in MLS. This year they made it.
“We have quality. We just have to believe and work and build a team. Paul is the right coach. He’s a team guy. We just need to be focused on the preseason, a good preseason. I just can’t wait and prove that he’s the right guy and we have the right players.”