Vancouver Whitecaps sign 'creative' playmaker to new contract

[MLS] The expansion Vancouver Whitecaps, which announced the signing of forward Eric Hassli last weekend as its first Designated Player, has completed the upgrading of playmaker Davide Chiumiento to an MLS contract.

Terms of the deal by which Vancouver retained rights to Chiumiento, acquired last August when the Whitecaps were still part of the USSF D-2 Pro League, weren’t disclosed. He played five games for Vancouver last year following three seasons in his native Switzerland with FC Lucerne.

“He brings a special skill set and quality that has the ability to change matches,” said team president Bob Lenarduzzi in a press release announcing the deal. “As an attacking midfielder or a withdrawn striker, Davide is the type of player who will excite fans with his creativity on the ball.

“I’m a big believer that results are important, but equally important is how you go about it. Davide is the kind of player who will get people up out of their seats with some of the things he does.”

Chiumiento, 26, played with Vancouver teammate Alain Rochat for the Switzerland U-21 team at the 2004 European Championships and began his pro career in Italy with Juventus at age 19. He debuted for Juve in February, 2004, but failed to keep a first-team place and played the next three seasons on loan to Siena, Le Mans and BSC Young Boys.

For the next three years he played for Lucerne, scoring 17 goals in 97 matches. Last season, Chiumiento (5-foot-8, 150 pounds) scored 11 goals in 27 matches while helping the club qualify for the Europa League. He debuted for the full Swiss national team in March of 2010 against Uruguay but didn’t make the cut for the Swiss World Cup team.

“I hope that we can all have a great season - the club, the players,” the soft-spoken Chiumiento said. “We hope to do something special for the city, so people will like to come to the stadium to see our games.”

The signing of Hassli, 29, gives Vancouver a big man (6-foot-4, 200 pounds) as well as another veteran of the Swiss league; he played with Rochat at FC Zurich.

"Eric is big, strong, and will give us a physical presence all over the pitch,” says head coach Teitur Thordason. “His addition will complement our team very nicely for the coming season, and I'm very much looking forward to having him in our club."

Neither Chiumiento or Hassli played last weekend as Vancouver tied Portland (1-1) and beat Seattle (3-2) at the Cascadia Summit. Chiumiento is available to play Saturday when the ‘Caps host defending league champion Colorado; Hassli will be eligible once he has been issued a work permit and MLS receives his international transfer certificate.

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