Eric Hassli: 'I’ve worked on my volleys since I was a little kid in France. You need space, perfect timing and luck'
One-time France Under-21 international Eric Hassli hasn’t made a huge impact on the global game, spending many years in Switzerland and failing to make an appearance during a 2002 loan at Southampton. But he did score not one but two of the finest goals that MLS enthusiasts have ever seen.
First the then-Vancouver Whitecaps forward belted home a blinder against Seattle Sounders. When defender Osvaldo Alonso miscontrolled a pass on a bouncy pitch, Hassli simply flipped the ball over him and blasted home a wonder-volley. Keeper Kasey Keller, 41, didn’t have had a chance.
“It was the end of the game and we were 2-1 down,” Hassli recalls to FFT. “I saw the defender miss the ball so I took a chance, deciding to hit it over him and take a shot.”
The unlikely goal was nominated for FIFA’s Puskas Award but more importantly clinched a draw for Vancouver. “At the time we were losing a lot,” says the Frenchman. “I was relieved, and happy for the fans that they finally had something to cheer about.
“I’ve worked on my volleys since I was a little kid in France,” continues Hassli, now playing for Las Vegas Legands. “They don’t happen too often in a game; you need space and perfect timing – and a bit of luck.”
A year after that strike, Hassli posted another contender in his one-man race for greatest MLS goal. Against Vancouver’s Canadian rivals Toronto FC – whom he’d join months later – he walloped in an unstoppable injury-time equaliser, again on the volley.
“I’ve scored a couple of good ones that I’m proud of, but none like that!” Hassli laughs. “I got the perfect cross, forced my body into position and hit the ball as hard as I could.”
Hassli calls it the “best goal I’ve ever scored” – but FFT prefers his original looper.
This interview originally featured in the November 2014 edition of FourFourTwo magazine. Subscribe!