Press Conference / Union

Hackworth looking to add striker, cut down on crosses

Philadelphia Union manager John Hackworth wants to add a striker.

The Union are considering both trades within Major League Soccer and international signings as a means of filling the need, Hackworth said Tuesday during a teleconference with media.

“Our ability to stretch the opposition with just pure speed is something we have to address,” Hackworth said.

Potential international signings would have to wait till July before they could play for the Union, because the MLS secondary transfer window doesn’t open till July 8. As a result, Hackworth said he is considering acquisitions within MLS, because they would be able to play for the Union immediately.

“I want to make sure you guys understand that the type of player we’re looking at has to be a significant dangerous attacking player,” Hackworth said. His implication was that the Union aren’t looking for a minor addition, and within MLS, that means you have to trade something — or someone — of value.

No Union player has scored in the team’s last four games. In their first seven games, the Union weren’t shut out once.

During that recent four-game streak, their opponents have often sat back and packed the middle in defense, leaving the Union openings out wide. The Union have taken those openings, but their crosses have been ineffective. For example, they completed a combined 4 of 70 crosses in the two home games of that stretch. All four of those completions came in set piece situations.

When asked about that, Hackworth said it was not the Union’s tactical plan entering those games to send in all those crosses. Rather, his players were taking those crosses as a default because those were the openings left by opponents playing very compact defensively.

For example, the Union adjusted to D.C. United’s compact play in the second half by dropping their own line to stretch United out, Hackworth said. It opened up the game but didn’t lead to a goal.

Other tactical adjustments could follow, Hackworth said. Last year, the Union often sat deep in defense and often ground out results while beating teams on the counterattack, whereas this year they have tried to play more attacking, possession-based soccer.

“I think we’re going to have to steal a little bit of what we did last year and incorporate it into this year’s team,” Hackworth said.

On the heels of a nine-game winless streak, something has to change for a team he thinks can still make the playoffs, Hackworth said.

During the teleconference, Hackworth directly answered several media questions about his job security in the wake of growing speculation that he could be replaced soon.

“I certainly heard the fans on Saturday,” Hackworth said, referencing a fan chant of “Fire Hackworth.” “It’s impossible not to hear the talk.”

Hackworth said his players were impacted by the negative fan response. When asked how, he said, “It’s harder for them to be in the stadium and hear that and put forth their best performance.”

Still, Hackworth said he and the team are focusing on matters on the field, which means executing better in both boxes.

“The first thing we did is we met as a team, and we said you can’t worry about anything that you can’t control,” Hackworth said.

The Union’s game at first place Kansas City on Wednesday looks like a very tough matchup, but it could offer a reprieve in one sense.

“The pressure comes off us in this regard,” Hackworth said, “because nobody expects us to get a result in Kansas City.”

50 Comments

  1. Scottymac says:

    My only regret was not having tickets to that match to chant. I’ll make up for it Saturday. Maybe this week Hack will walk out holding a litter of kittens, surrounded by nuns and cute children so Official Team Apologists can rip the fans.

    To be fair, not one single fan has scored for the Union this season, their performance at games has been abysmal.

    • +1 Maybe a fan can storm the field on Saturday and show the team how to put one in the back of the net…

  2. If only we had a promising young striker who would be nearing the end of his contract to use as trade bait for a proven striker.

  3. Delawter's cpap mask says:

    Chants should have no impact on a professional players performance. That comment is a disgrace and frankly sounds pathetic. If the players are that fragile and sensitive to criticism of their play and the coach this really will be a long year.

    • this attitude doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. there is a reason that teams generally do better at home and that has to do with thousands of spectators cheering them on. do you really think that it makes no difference to them when their home crowd boos them? do you think booing them will make them play harder? it doesn’t really matter whether or not it ‘should’ affect them. it does affect them.

      • Scottymac says:

        This attitude doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Do you want them all to get a ribbon of participation, or maybe get some pride and competitive fire and go do something about it? This club is either a good team playing way under their potential, in which case they need a good kick in the butt to correct. Or they are mediocre talents, in which case they’re as good as they will get and Hack should be run out for selecting them. Half this fan base has defended this incompetent for a year, saying he needed time to put his team together. These are Hacks players and they are now performing worse than under Nowaks players. Think about that, the narrative that He Who Shall Not Be Named and his awful contracts had better results and the remains of the day team in 2013 was ahead of this performance.

        Clap and cheer blindly if you want.

        • yes that is what i am saying. saying that i think we shouldn’t boo our own team is exactly the same as saying that everything with the team is completely fine and everyone should get a participation ribbon. all sarcasm aside, do you really think booing them will kick them in the ass and make them play better? do we boo the opposition when they play at ppl park to make them play better?

          • Atomic spartan says:

            Undeniably true. However, the Chester climate does not appear to have a salubrious effect on the Philadelphia approach to professional sports criticism. You may as well wish dross were gold. The entrance to the home players’ locker room at PPL should bear the warning: “Remember, we booed Mike Schmidt, too.” So perhaps we need to sign automatons with lightning speed and thunder in their insteps. Good luck finding any that can pass the physical.

          • You’re writing as if all game Boo’s were raining down on this squad. Fact is the Boos didn’t start till the final minutes of the match. TO top it off, if professionals can’t deal with some boos, then they definitely won’t be able to play in Europe and/or the USMNT. Heckling comes with the job description so if you can’t deal with it, you shouldn’t accept the job.

        • One of the biggest reasons why Sheik Mansour chose Manchester to drop his pile of money upon was the support of the fan base even when the team was doing poorly. He knew that a city that sent 25,000 supporters to a third division match would have great potential. If you don’t think home fans’ support matters to players on the pitch, I’m assuming you’ve never played competitive soccer before. Add in the fact that a lot of these players are just kids, and your boos just add lead to the sinking ship.

          • scottymac says:

            So did MLS award a club to a city that showed support before there was a team.

            And City invests so much money in trying to win they are fined for it. No danger here of that. Across that same town the supporters of the winningest club in league’s history didn’t just “boo”, they rented a plane to let their frustration show.The club agreed and moved in a different direction. How many stories did you read about Van Persie’s feelings being hurt? Januzaj is 19, did he go cry or take every opportunity he could to show he deserved to play? The average age of the team that played against DC was 25. When would they be old enough to be criticized in your opinion? Post-retirement?

            • I’m not saying they can’t be criticized. If you pay a ticket fee, you have every right to boo. I’m just saying that it DOES affect THIS team. For better or worse, it has an effect as evidenced by their post-game comments. Also, we’ve yet to see if that made any effect at Man U.

            • criticizing and booing aren’t the same thing

      • Atomic spartan says:

        Undeniably true. However, Chester apparently does not have a salubrious effect on the Philadelphia approach to public sports criticism. You may as well wish that dross were gold. The home players’ entrance to PPL park may as well be marked with The warning: “Remember, we booed Mike Schmidt, too.” So perhaps we should hope to find automatons with lightning speed and thunder in their insteps. Good luck finding any that can pass the physical.

  4. Season Ticket holder here. A big problem I see this season is Conor Casey is so slow, he is useless and Wenger has no composure.
    Thank God we picked up a backup goalie number one in the draft, maybe he can play striker

  5. I wish, instead of making it harder for the players to put forth their best performance when hearing the fans chant for their coach to be fired, that they would play harder.

    That they would shoot the ball.

    That they would rally around their coach, if they truly believe in the system, to get the fans back on their side.

    I want them to have the attitude Chip Kelly exemplified in one press conference.

    “We’re from Philly. We fight.”

    Show us that. As a team.

    • Dan Walsh says:

      Well said. You just took the last line of my column from yesterday and extrapolated everything I meant it to include.

      • Is the ball watching and the futility in the final third due to a lack of player attitude and drive or a lack of their knowledge of roles and assignments? If the latter, it is clearly within the “control” of the coaching. The fans waited to boo until the team’s results reached historic lows – after a loss in a game the Coach admitted beforehand was practically a must win. The correct answer is “The fans have the right to boo. My job is to manage the team to win games & we’re not doing that.” If he’s going to be moved to FO he should be aware of his lasting image to the base.

        • if he said that he would be projecting the image that some of the fans would want him to project but that doesn’t necessarily reflect the actual way the players on the team feel about being booed at home. it’s all well and good to have the attitude that we as dissatisfied fans have the right and responsibility to boo our team and by doing so we will light a fire under them to prove us wrong but in practice it seems that they actually don’t really like being booed and that it disheartens them.

          • To me, silence is the ultimate insult.
            .
            maybe a stadium with only 1000 people sitting on their hands is more appropriate. Play better and the booing ceases. Quite bitching.
            .
            Good grief as Charlie Brown so often proclaims.

            • philpill says:

              Precisely. Embroiling himself & his players in a tiff over fan etiquette distracts from the real problems: the record after 10 games & the reasons for it. Say, ” These next few games are like playoffs. ” Win & this problem, too, will be solved.

  6. Damn, have things changed in 2 months. From elated optimism to typical Philadelphia pessimism.
    There is still time to right this ship, but it will take a major trade, most likely. Maybe Zac for a striker, and throw Blake into the fire. Zac’s stock has never been higher.
    For everyone complaining about us getting rid of Jack, he’s a decent player, but is really a difference-maker? That is what this team needs.
    Drogba is still being rumored to head to Seattle. That opens up Martins for a trade.
    Find that finisher, and we’ll get back in games. Then get Sheanon back on track (abysmal start to the season for him), and things will get headed in the right direction.
    That being said, this all must happen by July, or Hack needs his resume polished quickly.

    • The tactics will still be the same no matter if a legit ST is brought in….maybe with Hack Union can be average, however, they will never win silverware under Hack regime.

    • We need more than a finisher given that we aren’t even creating chances. We are happy to just cross balls into the box. When Sheannon was healthier, he could put in some good crosses but he would also look to take players on and drive into the box, something we aren’t seeing currently. We are just too predictable and a world class finished won’t change that too much (unless it’s someone like Henry who drops back into midfield and can play creatively and send other players into dangerous positions).

  7. Check out the KYW podcast this week. Eli, Greg, and KK had a great show relaying the frustration here.
    One point they discuss is that they already made a move for a striker… still the same result.

    And then, how about one of the not-so-young-now youngens? What’s the point of having them if your not going to expose them, especially now? For best case scenario, see Sterling, Raheem.

    • I would disagree that they “already made a move for a striker.” More like they tried to make the best out of a tough contract situation and got something potentially good in return.

    • Very true – are Pfeffer, Hernandez and McLaughlin ever going to see the field? What about Ribeiro and Marquez? If they aren’t quality enough to play in MLS, why not trade them for someone who is?

  8. When I saw this headline I thought I had gone to the onion by mistake.

  9. Hackworth botched this offseason. He needed a CAM, a striker, and two CBs. Instead he got a starting caliber goalie who HASN’T PLAYED ONE MINUTE, and a USMNT caliber DM, when we already had 2 in Carroll and Okugo.

    Now, I’m not sure one forward will help. He’d be on an island, bc we don’t have anyone to get him the ball – except maybe on a cross! We need a CAM too. Forget going out and getting Obefemi Martins or other. Bring up Pfeffer and Ribiero and see what we have in Wenger and Hernandez.

    Oh yeah, is it just me, or would Hoppenot been perfect against Jeff Parke, who showed last year that he was slow and could be beat off the dribble. Instead, we get lumbering Casey and slightly less lumbering Wenger?

    Anyone who says Hackworth should be retained as a personnel/development guy is nuts. He has wrecked the Union’s roster, mismanaged what could have been a great draft, and hasn’t developed ANYONE. What young Union player has ever gotten a national team callup?

  10. Still thinks the playoffs are a possibility. I am concerned this team will not win another game this year. I am Herman Edwards….Playoffs?

  11. The Black Hand says:

    Please tell me I didn’t read that we are going to “…steal a little bit of what we did last year…”!

    • Dan Walsh says:

      You did. He was talking about whether the team should look to grind out results like a DCU or someone else, rather than trying to play possession ball like they have been.

      (It’s too bad this news conference was before a road game, by the way, because it means there’s no video of it. It was the sort of news conference many of you have been asking for.)

    • +1 – my first thought was, “great now we get to watch even uglier losses.”

  12. So basically the coach is saying that because the fans booed at THE END of the game, his players were disheartened and it affected them! I was there, I didn’t boo at the end, too disheartened, but the fans did nothing wrong! This stinks of lame excuses!

  13. OneManWolfpack says:

    If boos bother you as a professional, you should quit. Period. I don’t want to hear anymore from anyone on any professional team, whine about the people that support you monetarily. Enough.
    .
    A draw tonight would be like Christmas morning.

  14. John Ling says:

    I have quite a few thoughts on the booing thing, but I want to take the discussion somewhere else instead, because I think we’re focusing on the wrong thing.
    .
    Speculate for me, oh wise PSP community. Who might be available in MLS? And then, what would it take to acquire said player?
    .
    Somebody above mentioned Obafemi Martins from Seattle. What do we have that Seattle would want in return? One of Williams or Gaddis? That’s not enough, I would think. What else? And would the Union be willing to use a 3rd DP slot to acquire Martins?
    .
    Saer Sene of NE? He seems injury prone, but otherwise he seems like a player who could fit fantasticly well in the 4-3-3 system Hackworth seems to favor. He would seem to be able to play as either the center forward or on the left wing; has great size, good speed, and good ball handling. What would it take to get him? Brian Carroll seems like a good fit for NE. That’s probably not enough, though. Would NE go for Carroll, one of Cruz / Hoppenot, and allocation money?
    .
    Who else? What other forwards in MLS might be available, and what might it take to acquire him?

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