Albania international scores first MLS goal
TIRANA, April 17 – Albanian international midfielder Jahmir Hyka turned a hero for San Jose Earthquakes at the U.S. Major League Soccer last weekend as he scored a stoppage time equalizer to give his Western Conference side a precious point and keep them in the top five in the first eight games.
The equalizer against Dallas was Hyka’s first MLS goal in his six appearances since joining the Quakes earlier this year in the Major League Soccer where he rivals another Albanian international, striker Shkelzen Gashi playing the Colorado Rapids.
The 29-year-old Albanian playmaker joined the Quakes last February on a multi-year contract from Swiss Superligue club Luzern where he had been playing since 2011, making 182 appearances and tallying 25 goals and 20 assists.
“I just followed the ball. The defender missed the ball a little bit, I think, and I just went at full speed. I just took it with me and shot it. I didn’t think so much. Thank God it went in,” Hyka told the Quakes portal about his first career MLS goal.
Commenting on the Quakes getting another later equalizer, Hyka said that shows character and team spirit.
“I think that shows character. We showed the team spirit and that we fight until the last second. That’s important because it’s not the same if you lose or draw the game. I hope that we’ll do better in the next game against New England and get the three points,” said Hyka.
Hyka, who started his career in his hometown of Tirana before playing in Norwegian, Greek and German top leagues, is also a regular with Albania’s national team, having scored twice in 43 caps and with a key contribution to Albania’s debut at a major competition such as the Euro 2016.
Hyka is the third Albanian international to play in the Major League Soccer after Hamdi Salihi’s 2012-2013 spell with D.C. United.
Meanwhile, Albanian international Shkelzen Gashi has made a poor start with his Colorado Rapids this season after claiming the Goal of the Year award last year and scoring nine goals to help the Rapids make it to the Western Conference championship. The Switzerland-born striker of Kosovo roots has not been a regular starter for the Rapids this season who sit bottom, but with two games in hand. He has not even been called up by Albania’s coach De Biasi in the past three World Cup qualifiers.
Albania’s World Cup qualifying bid is now almost over following consecutive losses to group favorites Spain and Italy and even Israel. The poor performance in the past few months follows an impressive 2016 campaign when the national side made a first ever appearance at a major tournament such as Euro 2016 and was unlucky to make it to the knockout stage as one of the third-best placed teams after beating Romania in the group stage.