MLS Game of the Week: Whitecaps Extinguish Fire 4-2

August 8, 2011

Hassli Scores Again / The Daily Sports Herald

Vancouver -- The Vancouver Whitecaps took the field Sunday afternoon against the Chicago Fire and then caught fire themselves, exploding for a four-goal performance in a 4-2 victory at Empire Field. It was the ‘Caps most potent offensive performance since their season-opening win over Toronto FC in March.

The Whitecaps got the opening goal within the first minute courtesy of a blunder by Chicago Fire defender Yamith Cuesta, who misjudged a pass from Jordan Harvey. The misplaced pass found wide-open Caps’ striker Eric Hassli, who thundered in a 20-yard strike to the top right corner of the Fire goal.

The big Frenchman later said through an interpreter that the win was, “very, very, very, very, important,” before continuing, "the fans especially, they deserve it”.

There was something else different about the Caps this afternoon. Both strikers Hassli and Camilo were pressing the Fire defenders in front of their goal, and this defensive effort by the strikers had the desired effect of slowing down the Fire defenders and the midfield.

The almost 19,000 fans who turned up at Empire Field on this gorgeous afternoon were witnessing a different Caps squad from the team that lost 4-0 to the Galaxy the previous week. The Caps' pressing in front of the Chicago goal allowed the midfield to move up to support the strikers in the Fire half of the pitch.

The duel in midfield between Vancouver’s Gershon Koffie and Chicago’s Patrick Nyarko was intensified.  Meanwhile, Fire Striker Dominic Oduro was becoming a constant threat in front of the Caps goal.

In the 22nd minute, midfielder Sebastian Grazzini sent a through ball to striker Dominic Oduro, who used both his speed and potent skill on the ball, as he literally turned Caps fullback Alain Rochat around twice, before beating keeper Jay Nolly with a left-footed strike for the equalizer.

Somehow, Chicago coach Frank Klopas forgot to remind his players of the old soccer saying that "You are most vulnerable immediately after scoring a goal."

Less than a minute after the Chicago equalizer, defensive midfielder Koffie put the Caps ahead in the 23rd minute, when he took a pass from Hassli and beat Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson with a low strike. Koffie opened his MLS account with this goal. Johnson could have done a better job of saving this low shot from 28 yards out.

Vancouver was taking control of this game, and growing stronger and more confident as the game progressed, and Camilo and Hassli were tormenting the Fire defense, thus forcing the Chicago midfield to drop back for defensive duties.

In the 42nd minute, Chicago center back Yamith Cuesta, tormented all afternoon by both Camilo and Hassli, fouled the former atop the Fire penalty box. Referee Chris Penso promptly awarded a penalty kick to the Caps, but Fire keeper Johnson guessed right by diving to his left side to save Hassli’s spot kick. The Caps went to the break with a 2-1 lead over the Fire.

The Southsiders created a carnival atmosphere at Empire Fields and the day could not have been better for the fans, as the game on the pitch was just beautiful.

For the second half, Davide Chiumiento came on for John Thorrington, and the Caps never missed a beat. They picked up from where they left off, and started putting the Fire defense under intense pressure once again.

Camilo Scores for the Caps / The Daily Sports Herald

In the 47th minute Camilo took a pass from midfielder Shea Salinas, found some space on the left channel, and beat Fire keeper Johnson with a beautiful left strike from about 11 yards to give the Caps a two-goal lead. The carnival-like atmosphere was now in full swing, and Empire Field was beginning to look and sound like somewhere else, with only the costumes missing.

“I thought it was one of Camilo’s best games," said Caps’ coach Tom Soehn of Camilo’s masterful performance. "He did both sides of the ball very well.”

In the 73rd minute, Camilo’s free kick rebounded off keeper Johnson, and Koffie’s follow-up shot hit the left upright and rebounded into play, only for Hassli to tap it into the net for Vancouver’s fourth goal.

Chicago scored the last goal of the afternoon and their second overall when substitute Orr Barouch finessed his way through the Vancouver defense on a solo run from midfield to beat keeper Jay Nolly to make the final score 4-2 for the Caps.

“We scored two goals but we just made too many mistakes,” concluded Chicago coach Frank Klopas.

The Caps made two changes from last week, with Jay Nolly replacing Joe Cannon in goal, and Chiumiento taking the place of newly-accquired striker Mustapha Jarju, who was on international duty with the Gambian national team.


Goals: (Caps)Hassil1’; Koffie 23’; Camilo 47’; Hassli 71’; (Fire) Oduro 22’; Barouch 79’

Cautions: Harvey 4’; Oduro 26’; Rochat 33’; Pappa 53’; Pause 71’.

Vancouver lineup (4-4-2); Jay Nolly; Jonathan Leathers; Alain Rochat (Russell Teibert 56’); Michael Boxcall; Jordan Harvey; Shea Salinas; John Torrington (Davide Chiumiento 46’); Gershon Koffie; Peter Vagenas; Eric Hassli (Jeb Brovsky 84’); Camilo.

Chicago lineup (4-5-1) Sean Johnson; Logan Pause; Yamith Cuesta; Josip Mikulic; Gonzalo Segares; Marco Pappa (Christian Nazarit 55’) Sebastian Grazzini (Orr Barouch 55’); Daniel Paladini (Baggio Husidic 89’); Pavel Pardo; Patrick Nyarko; Dominic Oduro.

By Kwenu Turkson
Contributing Writer for

Photographs by Kweku Turkson
Contributing Photographer for

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