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The WTR Top 20, No. 14: Nicolas Hasler a pleasant surprise for Toronto FC

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The Liechtenstein international made his presence known early after coming over in the summer.

MLS: Philadelphia Union at Toronto FC John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

While he may not have been the star signing Toronto FC fans have gotten used to, Nicolas Hasler was a great addition to the team. The Lichtenstein midfielder came into the team during the summer months and played great.

His addition was a perfect antidote during a time when Toronto needed one most. With TFC being without Beitashour after his scary injury, Hasler stepped into the lineup and filled that right wingback role admirably. While it took him a few games to get acclimated to his surroundings and new teammates, Hasler quickly found himself in the starting lineup and producing.

His speed and offensive ability was a change of pace from Beitashour. Going forward, Toronto might be looking for him to take over the spot left by Beitashour’s departure to LAFC. With the CONCACAF Champions League coming up this season and TFC looking to go back to the MLS Final for the third straight season, his presence will be much needed.

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Toronto FC Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

Hasler only played 12 games in 2017, but he did put up some good offensive numbers. He scored three times on the season while also registering one assist. Hasler finished ahead of Jonathan Osorio and tied with Marky Delgado in goals.

He was almost as good on the defensive side of the ball as the offensive side, as his 1.6 tackles per game shows (according to whoscored.com). Hasler is a jack of all trades, soccer’s version of the utility man or Toronto FC’s version of Ashley Young (as Manchester United fans know).

He can play multiple positions, whether it be right midfield, wingback, or as an out-and-out right-back. This versatility makes him a valuable commodity for TFC going forward if they decide to change from their 3-5-2 to a more regular 4-4-2. He can slot into that right back position in the 4-4-2 or slide into the right wingback/right midfield role if they go back to the 3-5-2.

Two of Hasler’s three goals this season were headers off of beautifully placed balls from Victor Vazquez. The first goal of his MLS career came in just his second MLS game, when he latched on to a cross from Vazquez and put the ball into the bottom right corner.

The next game, Hasler followed that up with what was probably one of the best goals of the season. Off of a cross Hasler found himself open and put the ball toward goal into the top left corner of the net, hitting off the crossbar. His ability to place the ball in such a perfect spot just shows the kind of ability he has and the promise he has to Toronto going forward.

While it was his first season with Toronto, he came at the right time as he ended up becoming an MLS Cup Champion. While he didn’t get much playing time in the playoffs, his success during the season helped TFC get to where they were. If Hasler had goosebumps during his first few games here, wait until he gets to the home opener on March 3rd.