Home MLS Vancouver Whitecaps Another draw for Whitecaps, another red for Hassli

Another draw for Whitecaps, another red for Hassli

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Tom Soehn made his debut as the head coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps, but he wasn’t the focal point of Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Chivas USA in Carson, Calif. That (dubious) honour went to Eric Hassli, who was sent off the for the third time this season.

In the 66th minute, Ricardo Salazar gave the French Designated Player a straight red for a late lunging tackle attempt on the Goats‘ Ben Zemanski. It marked the third time Hassli has been sent off this season. Now, the key words are “tackle” and “attempt,” as it looked like, while late, Hassli actually made minimal contact with Zemanski. But, that could only be determined after looking at a couple of slow-motion replays. Salazar didn’t have that luxury, and should not be judged by them. In real time, Hassli came in very late, very fast, and looked to come through the player.

The real issue was where the tackle was made on the pitch. The troubling thing about Hassli’s cards is that none have come on incidents in which he was making an important play on the pitch. They’ve been the results of tackles well away from the Whitecaps’ own goal, or for pulling off his shirt after scoring. Basically, they suggest a player who loses his head all too often. And, even though Hassli has scored important goals, if he keeps reducing Vancouver to 10 men, he needs to sit.

Wednesday’s tackle was prime example. He was tracking back from his forward position, but was still only yards from the Chivas penalty area. Zemanski was in no way doing anything threatening with his possession. Why would Hassli even bother to make a lunge at that point? He knows he is carrying a reputation as a hothead, so why give Salazar any reason to go to his pocket?

But, on a night in which the Canadian national team played — and the Vancouver Canucks began the Stanley Cup final with a Game 1 win — the Vancouver Whitecaps were definitely flying under the media radar. So, Wednesday night’s away date to Chivas USA offered Soehn the perfect venue to begin his reign as coach of the Whitecaps. Not a lot of pressure when on the road against one of the poorest-supported teams in MLS on a weeknight, and Vancouverites had, ahem, other priorities.

Soehn made a minor change to Teitur Thordarson’s 4-4-2, tucking Camilo behind Hassli in a 4-4-1-1. With Terry Dunfield away on duty for Canada, Nazir Khalfan off the represent Tanzania and defender Michael Boxall out with New Zealand, Soehn made four lineup changes. Mouloud Akloul and Bilal Duckett moved into the backline. Cameroonian Alexandre Morfaw made his MLS debut. And, most importantly, veteran Joe Cannon took over between the sticks, replacing Jay Nolly.

Soehn’s goalkeeping choice was the inspired selection of the evening. Late in the second half, Cannon robbed Nick LaBrocca, who scored the opening goal just seconds after the second half began, to preserve the draw. He also denied Justin Braun in a frantic sequence with less than 10 minutes to play and the Whitecaps desperately trying to hang on for the point. After coming out of goal to make the sprawling save on Braun, the ball fell to LaBrocca, who fired the ball towards the goal, only to have it cleared from danger by defender Jay DeMerit.

Camilo equalized for the Whitecaps, rocketing a shot into the top right corner of the Chivas goal after Davide Chiumiento’s shot was blocked.

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