VANCOUVER, BC – Thomas Hasal has never lost focus of his goals.
He was a kid who started out playing at the club’s BMO academy program in Saskatchewan. He grinded his way to earn an opportunity to the full-time MLS Academy in Vancouver. And he moved his way up the ranks to earn a first team contract.
While Alphonso Davies is often the first name that people think of from the Whitecaps FC BMO Academy System, Hasal has also proven to be an inspiration for younger players.
“I think it’s massively important to be a role model,” tells the well-spoken 23-year-old. “I know many people who I came up with who’s dream it is to be here. It’s my dream to be here. It makes me recognize how much of a privilege it is."
Ready for his chance
2020 will go down as a chaotic year for many of us.
But for a 21-year-old Hasal, it was also one of opportunity. With first string goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau and second string goalkeeper Bryan Meredith both out for the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando, the young Canadian was thrust into the spotlight.
He performed admirably, earning league-wide recognition in helping the ‘Caps advance to the knockout stages and then come up with a series of massive saves against Sporting Kansas City.
But an injury weeks later would see him miss the remainder of the season, and he would have to wait again for his chance.
Fast-forward to January 2022, and another opportunity would come.
With Crépeau departing in a trade to LAFC, Hasal would be given a shot to start.
"When Max was traded I recognized it as a massive opportunity for myself, one that I've been working my entire life for."
Just when he started to find his rhythm, on the way to earning his third clean sheet in the first nine matches, another injury struck.
In a match where he saved a penalty kick against Toronto FC, Hasal would dislocate his finger and be out nearly three months.
“It was definitely frustrating to have the injury. I think coming in, playing games, starting to get my rhythm, especially in a good performance against Toronto. I would have done anything to stay in.”
After months of hard work he returned to start eight of the final nine matches of the season. In total, he was named to the MLS Team of the Week three different times in a breakout year.
“Football is full of highs and lows. It’s what makes us, what builds our character and makes us better athletes. At the end of it, I think the experience helped me.”
With 2022 winding down, one more opportunity has come for Hasal – one that wasn’t expected at the time.
Following a tough MLS Cup injury for Crépeau with LAFC, Hasal was called to step in for Canada at the pre-World Cup camp. One more chance to work towards his dreams.
And the steps that he took in MLS this season will continue to serve him well as he looks to achieve yet another goal.
“When I take a step away from it, [this year] was an accomplishment for myself. But at the same time, I want to evaluate everything, because it’s not where I want to be. I want to use these experiences to come into next year and be one of the best goalkeepers in the league.”
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