Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz
A few months back, a hypothetical man was hit by an imaginary car. Today, the hypothetical man is still undergoing imaginary physical therapy and has a hard time running. He ran (well, walked) into his imaginary friends from his hypothetical rec league. They asked him why he hadn’t been at practice lately.
“I can’t run,” we can imagine he said.
“Why not?” retorted the team.
“I was hit by a car a few months ago, remember?” A timid imaginary smile crept across whatever his face might have looked like.
“Pfff,” said the team, still responding in unison for some reason. “You can’t keep blaming that car.”
Here we sit, comfortably for the moment, on six of the nine possible points the Union could’ve taken so far. As good as those points look on paper, and as precious as they might turn out to be down the road, no Union fan who’s been paying attention can breathe anything resembling a sigh of relief. Not yet.
The wins came, as so many have pointed out, ugly. Hackworth would characterize it as “Philly tough,” but it’s not ugly that way, like a hard-nosed but loveable bulldog. It’s ugly the way the lovechild of Franck Ribery and Steve Buscemi would be. Moments of brilliance aside, the team is struggling to understand their respective roles, to put together plays, to finish (as always) — to do everything but win … barely.
As for matters off the pitch, the Freddy Adu “situation” (which may or may not have been resolved in a way that’s favorable to the U) and the recent revelations brought to light by PSP concerning Bakare Soumare have caused other grumblings.
Consequently, there’s no small amount of flak being sent in the general direction of the new head coach. From the home opener, for which his starting lineup was oddly short of starting players, to the present, John Hackworth has been under some fire.
Hackolytes defend the man at the helm with two simple words: Peter Nowak. The Poli-garch left a mess behind, and Hack is trying to clean it up while simultaneously campaigning for a season that doesn’t leave us all embarrassed. In the end, he can only do so much with what he’s inherited.
You can’t keep blaming Nowak.
Sure you can. No one likes excuses, but the problem with excuses is that they’re occasionally valid. Hackworth isn’t Jose Mourinho, and there are legitimate criticisms worth pointing out, but there is a certain handicap that ought to be considered before we loose the slings and arrows.
Any problems, like those concerning Adu and Soumare, don’t ever stop being Nowak’s fault, any more than an imaginary limp stops being the fault of a hypothetical driver sending an imaginary text at a fantasy intersection. What was his fault then will be forever and eternally so, as will the effects thereof. And because of Nowak, the Union is starting from scratch.
It’s almost as if they haven’t had three years to come together as a team, almost as if whatever the team was on its way to being was broken apart by a slew of weird trades combined with an unhealthy dose of Peter’s pet players and whatever random South Americans answered Diego Guittierez’s Craigslist ads. It’s almost as if key players had never really had their roles defined, and Hackworth is figuring out where best to deploy them on the fly, based on experience rather than autocratic whim.
Our new coach has his shortcomings. If there isn’t a marked upswing in consistency concerning both the positions and performances of the players over the next several weeks, he must answer for them. But so far, the ghost of Nowak still haunts the team, from the front office to the pitch. Bearing that in mind, cut Hack some slack … for now.