For the second straight match, Eric Hassli got his name in the Vancouver Whitecaps FC record book. This time, though, the big striker wasn’t celebrating.
A controversial 57th-minute red card turned the tide in a physical match against Philadelphia Union on Saturday, leading to Whitecaps FC's first taste of defeat in Major League Soccer in a 1-0 loss at PPL Park.
“We kept the ball quite well and played, actually, as we had planned,” said 'Caps head coach Teitur Thordarson after the loss. “But to lose a man out, that obviously has a huge influence on the game. That’s how it is.”
Vancouver looked a confident bunch in their first match away from home, showing the stern defensive organization that Thordarson promised - even with both of their starting center backs from their first match against Toronto FC last weekend gone on international duty.
“As a team, we played pretty well defensively,” said Greg Janicki, who filled in at center back. “It was kind of a defensive battle the whole game. Neither side was really creating many chances.”
Hassli - amongst others - wasn’t permitted to torment Philadelphia the way he did against Toronto FC last weekend. The match was filled with hard-nosed battles, as 41 fouls and seven yellow cards can testify. However, it was two relatively petty plays that ultimately got him in trouble.
In the 25th minute, the Frenchman picked up a yellow card after clipping Union defender Danny Califf with a late foot in. Then, in the 57th minute, Hassli received a second yellow after catching Califf's partner in central defense, Carlos Valdés, with a high foot.
Thordarson, though, remained diplomatic about the referee’s decisions. “Who should have had yellow cards and who shouldn’t have had yellow cards?” Thordarson said. "I’m not in position to say."
Hassli will now miss Whitecaps FC's next match against Sporting Kansas City at Empire Field on Saturday, April 2. Sporting will also be without their own star striker, as Omar Bravo was sent off in their 3-2 defeat at Chicago Fire on Saturday.