Vancouver Whitecaps Sign Eric Hassli as Its First Designated Player

Phil ShoreCorrespondent IMarch 5, 2011

Hassli (left) is the first DP signing for the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Hassli (left) is the first DP signing for the Vancouver Whitecaps.Dmitry Korotayev/Getty Images

David Beckham. Thierry Henry. Rafael Marquez. Thierry Henry. Cuauhtémoc Blanco. Juan Pablo Angel.

Those are some of the biggest DP signings in MLS history. They provide talent on the field and name-recognition off it, bringing in a lot of fans to see them play.

Eric Hassli? Have you ever even heard of him?

The Vancouver Whitecaps have announced Hassli will be the team’s first designated player. The question is, why?

He comes from Swiss Super League club FC Zurich. As a forward, however, he’s only scored seven goals in the past two seasons. Not very good numbers. He’s also not going to draw many fans out to games, although as an expansion team, the Whitecaps may not need a marquee name to bring out fans; the “newness” of the team may be enough.

Hassli has never played at the international level for France. C’mon man, even Mista has made a couple of appearances for Spain.

There are some reasons why it could be a good signing. At 6’4” and 200 pounds, he is a very strong forward, who according to Vancouver president Bob Lenarduzzi, also has good technical skill. The Whitecaps were also very thin at the forward position, with the only listed forwards on the roster being Atiba Harris (more of a midfielder) and Omar Salgado (who can’t play until September because of an age-restriction rule).

It certainly has the potential to be an impact signing, similar to Joel Lindpere for the New York Red Bulls and Alvaro Saborio for Real Salt Lake in 2010. But neither of those signings was for DP slots. For a club that was praised for bringing in USMNT defender Jay DeMerit as its first signing, the Hassli acquisition is a bit confusing.

Is Hassli worth the money? Or was this a move made out of desperation?