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Vancouver Whitecaps designated player Eric Hassli thinks MLS referees have something against him, and feels he doesn't earn the free kicks that smaller forwards receive.

BURNABY, B.C. – The raw deal the Vancouver Whitecaps felt Eric Hassli was getting from Major League Soccer officials?

Well, apparently the situation hasn’t improved much since head coach Martin Rennie sounded off about the star Frenchman’s treatment from referees in late April.

“Frustration,” Hassli told after training at Swangard Stadium on Monday, explaining why he booted in the ball away in stoppage time during Vancouver’s 4-1 loss to the New England Revolution on Saturday, picking up a senseless yellow card in the process. “I was so disappointed. Again, the ref was really hard this game. I can’t do nothing. I try to be nice, I try to speak but I can’t.

“Sometimes I think they have something against me. But I have to work to be quiet – or, I don’t know – just go away, but sometimes it’s really, really hard.”

Hassli now has four yellow cards, meaning that’s one caution away from a one-game suspension for accumulation.

The powerful forward felt the Revolution defenders were given a lot of leeway from Silviu Petrescu on the night. Once again, it’s his 6’4”, 200-pound frame that’s discouraging referees from awarding free kicks to Hassli that a smaller forward might receive, according to the 31-year-old.

“The guy can kick me all game,” Hassli said. “Normally the ref has to protect us, and just because I’m maybe big, everybody can do whatever they want with me. That’s my point, but I accept. I have to work – that’s it.”

Hassli had a long conversation with Rennie following the match, and also spoke with the club’s sports psychologist, Dr. David Cox, about how to handle frustrating situations.

When asked about the situation, Rennie was careful with his words – perhaps attempting to avoid disciplinary backlash from the league for criticizing its officials.

“I would avoid speaking about officials – it can become more complicated for me if I do,” Rennie said.


The Scotsman didn’t directly criticize the decisions in Saturday’s match, but expressed concerns over the consistency of MLS officiating.

“It’s one of those things – there could have been yellow cards for other things,” Rennie said. “I don’t fully understand why one’s a yellow card and one’s not a yellow card. But, I need to keep learning about that in this league – obviously it’s different to other leagues – but you keep learning and understanding it, and that helps you become a better coach.”