TORONTO – Toronto FC's hopes of closing out a miserable season on a positive note took a further blow this week, with an ankle injury likely to keep striker Eric Hassli out of Saturday’s league match against the LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center.
“He’s extremely doubtful in my mind,” TFC head coach Paul Mariner told MLSsoccer.com after training at Downsview Park on Wednesday.
The Frenchman, scheduled to have an MRI on his right ankle on Wednesday, is also doubtful for next Tuesday’s CONCACAF Champions League group stage match against CD Águila in El Salvador.
“We’re hoping it’s not ligaments,” Mariner added.
The injury resulted from a tackle by Michael Farfan at the edge of the Toronto penalty area with about 12 minutes to play in the Reds' 1-1 draw with the Philadelphia Union last Saturday. Hassli limped off the field and was replaced by Quincy Amarikwa.
“What happened was he was going to clear the ball,” Mariner said. “He got contact on his shin and as he’s kicking through he sort of rolled it a bit.”
There was no foul called on the play, even though Hassli was on the ground in pain. And about a minute later, a scuffle broke out between the teams.
“My biggest bug-bear is that one of my Designated Players, a goalscorer, has to come off of the field because of that tackle,” Mariner said. “Eric Hassli is not a guy who wants to come out of games. He’s got a lot to prove. He wants to do it for us.
“If you’re going to kick him off the field, then nobody’s going to benefit. We’re not, the fans love to see him play, home and away fans. He’s got great feet, scores goals, he assists, what more do you want from the guy."
Hassli, an imposing presence at 6-foot-4, receives considerable attention from opposing teams. After overcoming a previous ankle injury following his trade from Vancouver, he scored three goals and added two assists in his six league games.
“I’m not saying he’s being targeted, I just wish that was identified on Saturday as a foul, that’s all, because he’s come off the field," Mariner continued. "If it was a phantom foul then he wouldn’t come off the field.”
Mariner did intimate that Hassli's reputation might have factored into the lack of action taken by referee Silviu Petrescu.
“He’s a big guy and to be honest he’s a bit of a split personality Eric, because he’s the most wonderful man off the field,” Mariner said. “On the field, he wants to win, you know, he’s difficult to play against. Maybe it’s just that the referees think he’s feigning injuries but I can say he’s not feigning injuries with the amount of times he’s been in the treatment room. It’s just a shame.”