It was the Eric Hassli show at Empire Field on Sunday evening, as the big French striker scored two goals, added an assist and missed a penalty to power the Vancouver Whitecaps to a 4-2 victory over the Chicago Fire in front of 18,174 fans.
Hassli lit the match that started the fire with a screamer from the edge of the area in the first minute, sparking to life a first half that included three goals and a missed penalty. The Sarreguemines, France, native found himself completely alone after Yamith Cuesta failed to deal with a bouncing ball hit up the field by left back Jordan Harvey and made no mistake as his rocket of a shot found the top right corner.
The Fire, for their part, looked to strike on the counterattack, but struggled until Dominic Oduro went on a one-man mission against the Whitecaps defense and came out on top in the 23rd minute. The Ghanaian was the beneficiary of a nice touch from newly acquired midfielder Sebastian Grazzini, and then beat Alain Rochat one-on-one before firing past a helpless Jay Nolly from close range to bring his team level.
The Whitecaps had an immediate response, literally, as Gershon Koffie, not known for his goalscoring, took a long-range effort a minute later. His shot bounced up on the artificial surface past Sean Johnson to restore the Whitecaps lead, this time at 2-1.
In the 43rd minute Cuesta once again was the scapegoat on a pivotal play. The Colombian dragged down Camilo Sanvezzo right before the break, but was fortunate and grateful to see Johnson dive to his right and make a brilliant save on Hassli’s penalty attempt.
After the break, the Whitecaps didn't let up. Three minutes in, Camilo turned his marker, Josip Mikulic, with ease before beating Johnson with a low hard shot into the corner to put the 'Caps up two goals.
Nolly did his best in the 59th minute to maintain his team’s lead, making a diving save on Orr Barouch from close range. This match was Nolly’s first Major League Soccer start since June 29th against Toronto FC.
In the 72nd minute, Hassli added his second of the match, as he got on the end of a Sanvezzo free kick, and scored on the second effort after initially hitting the post. The goal was the Frenchman’s 10th of the season.
Orr Barouch added a consolation goal in the 80th minute with a smart finish past Nolly’s right, but it wasn’t enough as the Fire fell 4-2 to the Whitecaps.
The Caps' third win of the season and first since mid June should provide good momentum, particularly in light of their sharp attacking performance. But the side remains in the cellar in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, the Fire are still mired at the bottom of the East, losers of three out of their last four.
The Caps next go on the road to Washington, where they on D.C. United at RFK Stadium on August 13th.
The Fire also travel to the East Coast, visiting the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena.
VAN -- Eric Hassli 9 (Jordan Harvey 2) 2
CHI -- Dominic Oduro 6 (Sebastian Grazzini 1) 23
VAN -- Gershon Koffie 1 (Eric Hassli 1, Camilo 2) 24
VAN -- Camilo 7 (Shea Salinas 3, Jordan Harvey 3) 48
VAN -- Eric Hassli 10 (unassisted) 72
CHI -- Orr Barouch 2 (Patrick Nyarko 5) 80
Chicago Fire -- Sean Johnson, Logan Pause, Yamith Cuesta, Josip Mikulic, Gonzalo Segares, Marco Pappa (Cristian Nazarit 56), Sebastian Grazzini (Orr Barouch 56), Daniel Paladini (Baggio Husidic 70), Pavel Pardo, Patrick Nyarko, Dominic Oduro.
Substitutes Not Used: Jalil Anibaba, Dan Gargan, Michael Videira, Jon Conway.
Vancouver Whitecaps -- Jay Nolly, Jonathan Leathers, Michael Boxall, Alain Rochat (Russell Teibert 56), Jordan Harvey, Shea Salinas, John Thorrington (Davide Chiumiento 46), Gershon Koffie, Peter Vagenas, Camilo, Eric Hassli (Jeb Brovsky 84).
Substitutes Not Used: Greg Janicki, Nizar Khalfan, Omar Salgado, Joe Cannon.
VAN -- Jordan Harvey (caution; Reckless Tackle) 4
CHI -- Dominic Oduro (caution; Simulation) 26
VAN -- Alain Rochat (caution; Reckless Foul) 33
CHI -- Marco Pappa (caution; Tactical Foul) 53
CHI -- Logan Pause (caution; Tactical Foul) 71
Referee: Chris Penso
Referee's Assistants: Hector Vergara; Mike Rottersman
4th Official: David Gantar
Time of Game: 1:51