Time for Hassli to lift offence

Tyler Green, soccer columnist for 24 hours Vancouver

They currently sit atop the Major League Soccer's Western Conference standings, but where has all that offensive punch gone for the Vancouver Whitecaps FC?

Not only do the 'Caps have three goals in three matches this season, with one of those coming from its defender Jay DeMerit, they couldn't manage a single shot on target in Saturday's scoreless draw with D.C. United. All this is coming from a team that features three players who had 10 or more MLS goals last year.

The Vancouver offence just isn't in sync. French forward Eric Hassli, who potted the franchise's first MLS goal, is struggling to find his form. He has yet to score and you can see the frustration mounting - just look at his yellow card and resulting skirmish.

"Some frustration up top because we didn't do what we wanted to do sometimes," said Hassli's teammate Sebastien Le Toux, who scored in his first game as a 'Cap against Montreal.

The 30-year-old Hassli needs to show how he deserves his designated player status - and the only way to do that is to score goals.

"Hassli is the focal point and too often he stops the attack or comes way too deep to be effective," said former Canadian national team defender turned TEAM 1410 colour analyst David Norman. "Watch the top forwards in this league and they all get in behind the defence of the opposition. You don't see that with Hassli."

Hassli can still equal his 10-goal total of last year, but finding his scoring touch earlier in the season would benefit his teammates who are also struggling.

"I'm not worried, it's going to be better and better", said compatriot Le Toux, who came to Vancouver in a trade with Philadelphia where he scored 25 goals in 62 matches.

So far, Camilo has been the lone offensive bright spot for Vancouver. Norman agrees, adding the Brazilian forward "will get his share of goals as he gets himself in good positions."

Players returning from injury will also help. Forward Atiba Harris and midfielder John Thorrington are healthy and resumed full training this week and could be selected to the 18-man roster for Saturday's match in Philadelphia. Both players should provide assistance to the forward ranks and add to that offensive flare, something this team currently lacks.

The 'Caps need to find goals soon because if the defence starts to leak goals, the Whitecaps reign atop the West could be a short one.

Listen to Tyler Green on TEAM 1040 every Sunday at 9 p.m. He also co-hosts the Whitecaps pre- and post-game shows. Follow him on Twitter @tylergreen1040.