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Hassli a finalist for FIFA goal of the year

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Eric Hassli’s wonder goal from the 2012 Amway Canadian Championship has put him on an exclusive list with the likes of Lionel Messi and Radamel Falcao.

The Toronto FC striker is on the short list for the Ferenc Puskas Award, which FIFA awards for the best goal scored in 2012, anywhere in the world. Messi is nominated. Falcao is nominated. And Hassli is also on the list, for his May 16 goal that gave the Vancouver Whitecaps a 1-1 draw with Toronto FC in the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship final.

(Toronto FC would go on to win the second leg, and Hassli would later be traded to Toronto, so there’s plenty of irony about this goal, too).

After being nominated for an ESPY in 2011 for his audacious long-range-goal-while-shuffling-away-from-goal tally against the Seattle Sounders, Hassli once again showed his penchant for the spectacular in May. He allowed a long cross to sail past his torso, then whipped his right leg through the ball and smashed the volley into the top corner of the Toronto FC goal. The goal set BC Place alight. What made the goal special is that it wasn’t an easy cross to handle; it was hit with decent velocity, but wasn’t high enough for Hassli to strike with his head.

The Puskas award was launched by FIFA in 2009 to recognize arguably the greatest pure goal-scorer in the history of the game. The Hungary and Real Madrid legend may not have been the best all-around player who ever lived, but when it comes to converting chances, it’s hard to argue that anyone was more lethal, more clinical. Puskas still holds the record for goals scored in a European Cup final — four — as Real Madrid beat Eintracht Frankfurt in the 1960 finale. Puskas was the most famous part of Hungary’s famed Golden Team, which set the soccer world on fire with its 6-3 win over England at Wembley in 1953, a game which would later be recognized as “The Game of the Century.” And it’s hard to argue that West Germany’s 3-2 win over Hungary in the 1954 World Cup final was not the greatest upset in the history of WC finals.

The winner of the Puskas award is decided by popular vote. You can vote for Hassli or any of the nine other candidates HERE. Yes, it can devolve into a popularity contest, and the fact that Falcao and Messi are on the list will surely give both superstars some automatic votes. But, heck, when you check out the page, make sure to watch the ridiculous backheel-while-on-the-ground goal from Gaston Mealla.

Voting remains open till Nov. 29.

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