Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced today the signing of French striker Eric Hassli as the club's first Designated Player. Per club policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.
"As we continue our preparation towards our inaugural season in Major League Soccer, we are thrilled to bring in a striker of Eric's quality," said Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi. "There are three types of Designated Players - the marquee name, a young player with upside, and very good experienced technical players. Eric is very much in the latter category; he's a player who will make an immediate impact and will make us a better team."
Hassli joins Whitecaps FC after spending three-and-a-half seasons with Swiss Super League club FC Zürich, where he was a teammate of Whitecaps FC defender Alain Rochat. During his time with FC Zürich, Hassli scored 36 goals in 115 competitive matches, including 21 goals and 10 assists in 34 appearances when FC Zürich won the Swiss Super League title in the 2008-09 season. The 2009-10 season saw the native of Sarreguemines, France, score four goals in 20 league games and one goal in five UEFA Champions League appearances. Hassli has scored five goals in 18 appearances with FC Zürich this season, including four goals in his last three games.
"It was important for us to bring in an experienced striker," said Whitecaps FC head coach Teitur Thordarson. "Strikers are a top priority for clubs around the world, and therefore difficult to secure. Eric is big, strong, and will give us a physical presence all over the pitch. His addition will complement our team very nicely for the coming season, and I'm very much looking forward to having him in our club."
Prior to his time with FC Zürich, Hassli played the 2006-07 season with French Ligue 1 outfit Valenciennes FC. From 2004 to 2006, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound striker scored 18 goals in 47 Swiss Super League appearances for FC St. Gallen after moving from fellow Swiss club Servette FC midway through the 2004-05 season. Hassli returned to the Swiss Super League to play for Neuchâtel Xamax FC in 2003 following three-and-a-half seasons with French side FC Metz. During the 2001-02 season, Hassli spent time on loan with Southampton FC of the English Premier League.