Hassli’s wonder strike doesn’t take MLS Goal of the Year By Steven Sandor Posted on November 16, 2011 3 0 724 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Eric Hassli PHOTO: Noelle Noble It may be the biggest upset to come out of this year’s Major League Soccer Awards. Vancouver Whitecap Eric Hassli’s wonder strike against the Seattle Sounders didn’t win the Goal of the Year honour. Instead, rookie Darlington Nagbe got the award for his volley-and-shoot effort against Sporting Kansas City. Nagbe’s goal received 42 per cent of the fan balloting, while Hassli’s wonder strike got just 31 per cent of the vote. Goals from Seattle’s Fredy Montero and Vancouver’s Davide Chiumiento got the rest of the votes. When Hassli scored his goal near the midway point of the season, the question wasn’t if it wasn’t the best goal of the year, but if it deserved to be rated as the best goal in MLS history. He retrieved the ball down the right channel and, with his back to goal flipped the ball up, turned and volleyed a shot that went over keeper Kasey Keller and just inside the far post. Nagbe’s goal was a little more clinical, as in it was clear he picked his shot and went for it. You could argue that Hassli’s shot was more of a Hail Mary — just fire the ball towards goal because you are the only forward in the vicinity. After SKC keeper Jimmy Nielsen punched the ball away, Nagbe cradled the ball on his right foot, juggled once, juggled twice and then sent a rocket into the top left corner of goal. Hassli had his back to goal, Nagbe was facing the goal. Hassli’s goal has nearly 1.4 million views on MLS’ YouTube channel. Nagbe’s had 1.6 million. Nagbe’s goal was featured on ESPN’s SportsCentre for a week. Hassli’s goal was nominated for an ESPY as play of the year. Hassli’s goal was broadcast on media outlets throughout Europe, including the BBC. With the ESPY nomination, it was easy to handicap Hassli as the clear favourite. But this is a fan vote — and it comes down to a popularity contest. After all, Goal of the Year is a fun thing to involve fans in the awards process, and there is no way MLS should ever change that. But, Portland fans were likely more dedicated to their player’s cause than Vancouver fans were to the Hassli goal. Of course, the irony can’t be ignored — Vancouver passed on Nagbe and took Omar Salgado with the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft. Granted, it was speculated that Nagbe wasn’t big on the idea of playing in Canada. But the No. 2 pick got the award. Which is better? You decide.