VANCOUVER, BC – Aly Ghazal was a surprise starter in Saturday's 3-2 win over Real Salt Lake.
Many assumed he’d come off the bench towards the latter stages of the match to make his MLS and Vancouver Whitecaps FC debut. It was, after all, Ghazal’s first league outing since December of last year, though he had played in some reserve league and Cup matches since then.
But Carl Robinson gave Ghazal the nod from the get go.
And the Egyptian international didn’t let him down. In fact, Ghazal played so well that Robinson left him on the whole match, despite only planning to play him for about 60 minutes.
“I thought he was absolutely top class,” Robinson said. “He broke up plays, he was simple.”
Ghazal played next to fellow central midfielder Tony Tchani in front of the back four and recorded a game-high four interceptions. Here’s a sample of his work on the night.
Last month, Robinson said he had been targeting Ghazal for quite some time, making a “sneaky bid” on the 25-year-old even before he made the move from Portuguese Primeira Liga side C.D. Nacional to Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng FC of the Chinese Super League in January.
And on Saturday night, we got a good idea why.