The drought is over.
Eric Hassli’s match-winning goal 18 minutes in against FC Edmonton stopped the goalless streak at 17 games and propelled Vancouver Whitecaps FC to a 2-0 victory in Wednesday’s first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship semifinals.
“It’s a good feeling,” Hassli told Whitecapsfc.com following the match. “Thanks Omar [Salgado] for giving me a great ball. I’m lucky, because it was difficult. But I’m happy. Maybe the chances have turned for me now.”
Thank you, Omar, indeed. Salgado (above), in perhaps his most impressive appearance in a competitive fixture for Whitecaps FC, was the catalyst in Vancouver’s win, beating centre back Paul Hamilton on the left wing before passing back for the big Frenchman to fire a low shot under Edmonton goalkeeper David Monsalve for the opening goal.
“Game by game, I’m getting more confidence,” Salgado told reporters after the match. “That’s really what I want and what the team wants – get some assists, get Eric on the ball and try to get him to score. Today, his first goal – I think there’s a lot more from him.”
The first overall pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft followed that up by playing a key role in Atiba Harris’ 2-0 goal, beating an Edmonton defender before chipping Monsalve, only to be denied by the woodwork before the St. Kitts & Nevis international popped in the rebound.
“I thought he did really well,” head coach Martin Rennie said of Salgado’s play. “I thought he looked very dangerous. He set up two goals. He’s a talent. He’s one we’re working hard with and we want to see him continue to progress. But you can see when he gets the ball in good positions, he’s very dangerous.
“We like him in that position [on the left wing]. We think it suits his attributes a lot more and he’s doing well there.”
Ultimately, the win puts Vancouver in a strong position to advance to the final of the Canadian Championship going home for the second leg at BC Place next week.
“Overall, I’m very happy,” Rennie said. “That’s another win for us on the road. Of course it’s only halftime in this tie and there’s a lot still to play for next week, but we’ve put ourselves in a good position. These games are often tricky games where you can slip up if you’re not focused, but I thought we gave a professional performance tonight and I was very pleased with it overall and glad to move on to the next game now.”
Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com.