Press Conference

“We know what we have to do” – Video and transcript of John Hackworth’s weekly press conference

Editor’s note: Questions have been paraphrased due to the audio quality.

What options are you considering to replace Brian Carroll in Saturday’s lineup?

That’s a good question. We could move Amobi there, and that would shift our backline a little bit. We could use Lahoud there but Lahoud is coming off of an injury so we’ve got to make sure he’s a hundred percent ready to start a game. We could change our formation a little bit and literally not replace anybody in that spot but play a little differently. So, we have some options but, at this point,we haven’t made any decisions yet.

What about who will replace Brian Carroll as captain and his leadership on the field?

I would say that we do have a good group of guys in the locker room. Of the guys who are most likely to be on the field on Saturday, two guys that I would look to immediately would be Jeff Parke and Conor Casey. And then I think Sheanon Williams and Amobi Okugo are also young guys that I think  easily would take that leadership role on. So, I don’t think it’s gonna be a big deal for anybody, I think that the way our team has done it all year long is that those guys have acted as leaders whether they were wearing the armband or not. So, whoever wears it on Saturday, and we haven’t made that decision yet, they’ll do the same thing they’ve been doing.

Given the stakes, will you go for a lead earlier than you might otherwise?

We certainly understand where we are and what we have to do. That means we can’t leave it late, if you will, which means we’re gonna have to take a little more risk earlier. The point being that my colleague, Peter Vermes, called us Real Estelli last time we played them in Kansas City. It’s a Nicaraguan club that plays in the Champions League and, apparently, they’re pretty conservative, I would say. We might have to play the opposite on Saturday.

Given that KC is going to be as attack minded as you are and what they are playing for, how does that change your preparation?

I don’t know. It’s interesting with them. All joking aside with Peter Vermes calling us a Nicaraguan team last time, I have a great respect for what he does and what they’ve done this year. That said, when we played them here, they changed their tactics significantly. We played them straight up in the first game that we won when I was in charge and, I believe it was less than two weeks later, we played them in the Open Cup and they changed strategy completely in that game. They sat in and made it tough for us to play. So, it’ll be interesting to see what they do. They’re in a similar spot in that they could play for the Supporters Shield, they gotta get some results to go their way on Sunday as well, and that means they might try to come play. But, we know what we have to do and I think we’re gonna focus on that. We know each other well enough, this is the third time we’ve met. We’ll see how that all plays out.

Roger Torres played well in his minutes in Montreal Could he play on Saturday?

Sure. I think it would be in a similar role to what you saw in Montreal, meaning that he would be coming off the bench. But I’m happy for Roger, and I agree, I think Roger played well and gave us a little bit of spark. Roger has the ability, we all know that. But in the role that he would be playing for us, it would probably be coming off the bench in that game.

If the team was playing on Sunday, and Houston and New England on Saturday, it could have been that, depending on the results, the Kansas City game was meaningless. How has the schedule helped?

I don’t know that it’s helping [laughs]. I like it that it means something, and I think that our players like that it means something right now. I told our players and staff earlier this week that many different scenarios I’ve been faced with as a coach that have been worse than the current scenario we’re faced with, both in World Cup qualifying [and] I was on Bob Bradley’s staff in the Confederations Cup and we had a scenario that seemed unbelievable. But the classic saying, “So you’re saying we got a chance,” is one that we used. We’re in that position right now. We need a little help from people on Sunday but we have to take care of business on Saturday. We have to get three points, we have to beat a very good Sporting Kansas City team. So that allows us to kind of focus in, if you will, and just take care of what we can and can’t worry about anybody else.

Are there lessons you can take from some of those experiences you have had as a coach to apply to the current situation?

Absolutely. I’m thankful that I’ve gone through those scenarios where I felt like the room and ceiling was caving in on me and there was no way out and yet we found a way out. And everytime you do that as a coach it definitely instills that belief that, as long as you have hope, and as long as you are playing for something, it’s massive.

Amobi Okugo has said that it feels like, if the team makes the playoffs, it’s a whole new ballgame. Do you agree?

It certainly will. What I would say is, win, lose, or draw on Saturday, I really like our team. And I like that they think like that. I like that Amobi says those kind of things because that’s the way our that our players feel and that’s been a strength of ours all year long. We understand what we are, and I’ve said it other times, we understand what we are not. But we know that we’ll go into every game and give it our absolute best and fight to the very end. That kind of attitude allows you to have that very much a confidence about what you’re doing. We’ll have to wait to see what happens on Saturday, but I like that and I’m glad that I’ve got guys in the locker room that say those kind of things.

What’s the team’s injury status?

Seba and Michael are both coming back and are in training, so that’s good news. Hopefully we have both of those guys available for selection on Saturday. Keon Daniel is probably not going to be available, his situation is such that he’s not in training and probably doesn’t look like he’ll be available this week. We’ve had one other injury come up, Don Anding has a concussion, so that’s kind of ruled him out for this match as well.

Thoughts on Chris Albright and what he’s meant to the franchise

Taking Chris and his entire career, it’s pretty impressive. I’ve personally been glad to have him on our team and I think it’s fantastic that he’s gonna finish his career in the MLS in Philadelphia in front of his family and friends. We’re certainly going to do everything we can to honor him the right way, he deserves it, no doubt. So, a ton of respect for him and for what he’s done, both for the club and for me personally. Hopefully this won’t be his last game, that’s the way kind of I’m looking at it, we’re certainly going to honor him the way he deserves.

Will Albright stay working with the club?

I don’t know that yet. Chris has got a lot of strengths and a lot of talents, so I have no doubt that Chris is going to be very successful at whatever he decides to do. I certainly think I guy like him with his roots to this community is certainly very valuable, but that remains to be seen.

It may be a question for Chris, but when you’ve had a career as long as his, how hard is it to walk away from the game?

It certainly is a question for Chris and just knowing players who have gone through it, it’s a big adjustment because, on the one hand you’ve had this long and illustrious career and done so many great things, but now you really have to change gears. You go from being a professional athlete to going back into the work force, if you will, and that’s a hard adjustment. And just the fact that he’s not going to be coming in and going out and lacing up his boots and knocking a ball around for a living, that’s a big thing. I think he’s preparing well for that though, to his credit, but it’s definitely a difficult next step for him.

Do you allow yourself to look back over the season and think about dropped points and what could have been?

I would be lying if I said I didn’t do that. There’s four critical moments in this season where I think if those moments play out the way that they absolutely a hundred percent should have, we would have ten more points than we have, we would be talking about us playing for the Supporters Shield and not playing to get into the playoffs. But that’s what this game is, it can be very cruel at times. I’ve said it before, I always think that when those things happen, good things happen to you on the other end. There are other examples of games that maybe we shouldn’t have picked up points, so maybe it does all comes out in the wash in the end. But, at the same time, it’s hard not to think of those instances and if they would have been a little different. Two games where you think deep, deep into injury time the whistle should have blown a long time ago and in both of those we lose four points alone and that four points would put us in the top three right now. So, out of the four I mentioned, there are in my mind two of them that would have already put us there. It is what it is, we just gotta deal with it. I go back to what I said earlier, I like the fact that out team seems to be able to deal with it and just roll on and still have a very positive attitude.

7 Comments

  1. Pro Tip: Spend five minutes reading The Onion before you read the transcript above. Much, much more fun that way

  2. I never quite understood the point of coaches, in general, to be cagey to the extreme. Hackworth pretty much knows who his captain is going to be. Just say it. The knowledge of who is going to be captain isn’t going to change Kansas City’s game plan one bit.

    • Agree. I can see not revealing what he’s going to do about Carroll’s role in the lineup, but there’s no reason not to say who the captain will be.

  3. Maybe I read it wrong, but is he still complaining about a couple of (maybe) bad calls ruining the season? What about all the red cards we benefited from?

  4. Now I realize I should have kept the original title of my column this week, “So you’re saying there’s a chance…” 😉

  5. Pingback: Preview: Union vs Sporting Kansas City

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