Fairytales do come true in Orlando after all.
Thomas Hasal, the Vancouver Whitecaps' 21-year-old third-string goalkeeper probably never imagined he'd be helping the Whitecaps team into the Knockout Stage at the MLS is Back Tournament and that he'd be the star of the team in a Round of 16 match where they came up just short.
The Whitecaps came into the tournament shorthanded without several starters who didn't travel. Then they lost their first-choice goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau to a fractured thumb after seeing back-up goalkeeper Bryan Meredith return home following the sudden passing of his mother.
Up stepped Hasal, who came up big to earn a shutout in his first start against Chicago Fire FC in their group stage finale. The 2-0 victory earned the Whitecaps an improbable berth to the Knockout Stage.
They came up against Sporting Kansas City in the Round of 16 and Hasal stood on his head again, making eight saves to preserve a 0-0 draw during regulation. But his one stop — on Sporting KC's Daniel Salloi — was not enough to send Vancouver through to the quarterfinals (see his highlight video above).
Behind the Scenes: Hasal's debut vs. Fire
Hasal: Homegrown goalkeeper
Hasal hails from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and developed at the Whitecaps FC Saskatchewan Academy Centre, where he played in the Under-18 Saskatoon league from 2013 through 2016 and in the men's division one in 2015-2016. He also starred for Team Saskatchewan in 2014-2015.
He then moved to join Vancouver's residency program in August 2016, eventually starring for the Whitecaps Under-18 and Under-19 teams in the Development Academy.
Meanwhile, he also became a fixture for Canada's youth national teams at the Under-18, Under-20 and Under-23 levels, starting for Canada at the Concacaf Under-20 Championship in 2017 and 2018. He debuted in camp with the Canada Under-23 team in January 2018.
In March 2019 Hasal was signed to an MLS homegrown contract with the senior team through 2020 with options for 2021 and 2022.
Born in Cambridge, Ontario, Hasal later moved to Alberta before settling in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Prior to joining the ‘Caps youth system, Hasal played one year with Saskatoon club Aurora SC.