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A Philadelphia Union blog hosted by Christopher A. Vito and Matthew De George

Thursday, August 30, 2012



Here's a glimpse into the life of John Hackworth

When he found out Thursday that his interim tag had been lifted, and that he had been named the Union's full-time team manager ... he went right back to work.

“For the last three hours I had my phone off and I just decided to turn it back on," Hackworth told me late Thursday night. "It’s awful nice to have so many people say congrats. But look, we’ve got a game Saturday (against New England) and I’ve been watching video to get prepared for that.”

Here's the rest of my interview with Hackworth, who was named the second Union manager in franchise history.

On how it went down

“I got a phone call from Nick (Sakiewicz) this afternoon and it was at that point that I found out. I just felt very thankful and relieved. I’m not going to lie and say it wasn’t a bit of a trying time. It was great news. Nick had shown a ton of faith and confidence in me the whole time. I had been operating like I’d have this job. Some of this was a nice announcement, but it doesn’t change anything in how I’ve approached this job.”

On whether the new title adds pressure
 “I don’t think of it like that at all. I’ve been coaching for so long and in so many pressure situations and I do what I do, I believe in what I believe and I believe in the guys I coach. Our situation is going to change a little because we’re not in the playoff situation, and that’ll change the dynamic in that I’ll play some guys who haven’t been playing. I’m not going to change my mentality on how to prepare a team, or tactics or anything like that. We have a good group of players and I’ve been doing everything possible to bring a lot of that fundamental stuff that we’ve been trying to do since Day 1.”

On whether the new title affects how he’ll approach the offseason
“First and foremost, I try to be very organized. I try to plan in this league. It’s so important to manage so many aspects of the job – not just the players in the locker room and how you train and the starting 11, but how you manage salary cap, allocation money and the moves you make. It’s extremely difficult if you don’t give yourself leverage. That’s a real important aspect. It takes a lot of homework and ultimately some good selections.”

On whether the new title allows him to appreciate his accomplishments
“I’m very proud of what this group has accomplished. I go back to I’m a coach and it’s what we do. Honestly, people can say what they want about the differences between me and Peter, but there’s some things that Peter did that I’m still doing and some things I’ve gone with my ideas and methods. Looking at the big picture, this is the kind of work that I’ve spent most of my adult like working on to get better at every day. When you’re a coach, it’s not like you have time to stop and smell the roses or pat yourself on the back., you get in trouble doing that. The game is funny, it’s cruel, it’s rewarding. The highs and lows are there and you have to stay even-keel through it.”

On how he got to this point
“I always try to listen to the people I really trust and use a thoughtful approach to evaluating because once you get emotional about it, you don’t make the best decisions. I just stay even-keel and use time to make good evaluations and trust in people on my staff.”

On what the title means to him
“You have to live it. For me, it’s never easy but it’s also what I totally live for. I can’t imagine any other way because it’s what I do and it’s what I love. I love what I do. I’m extremely humbled by the fact that I get to wake up every single morning and coach a sport I’m passionate about. I don’t have to push myself out of bed. I go to work because it’s something I love. It’s fantastic. I’m very fortunate to have had more successes than pitfalls in my career, and I hope to continue that trend."

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The Union announced Thursday they've removed the interim tag from John Hackworth's title and made him their team manager.

Hackworth took over in June, following the dismissal of Peter Nowak.

Hackworth has directed the Union to a 5-6-2 record, with 17 goals in 13 games. Nowak led the Union to a 2-7-2 mark, with 8 goals in 11 games.

Said Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz, on the timing of removing the interim tag after a deflating 2-1 loss to Columbus: "It was just waking up this morning and a very lousy feeling about last night and how we dominated the game. John really created what that product was yesterday and we need more of it to get better. He’s the guy to do it. 

"He’s got a great plan. He presented a plan to me yesterday. We had a planning meeting for next year before the game, on how to make the team more effective and the development of the younger guys. Not that I wasn’t going to take the interim tag away, but that plan was impressive. I said to myself, ‘Why wait? Do it. Let’s go.'"

For more on Hackworth, pick up Friday's Daily Times.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Here's all that you need to know from the Union's 2-1 loss to Columbus Wednesday night at PPL Park:

Carlos Valdes, who left the match after tweaking his left hamstring, ended the Union's 200-minute scoring drought. More importantly, the Union have the uncanny ability to permit goals in the closing minutes of each half. (Keep reading for a ridiculous stat below.)

Valdes scored in the 29th and the Crew added tallies in the 41st and 94th, which prompted Union manager John Hackworth to declare his club's chances at making the postseason "over."

“I’m the eternal optimist, but I will say I’m not stupid, either,” Hackworth said. “Unless we go on some amazing run, tonight was a game we had to get three points in ... so I don’t think it’s a possibility anymore. I think we should stop talking about it. 

“We should concentrate on playing good soccer the rest of the way, see how many points we get and the position we put ourselves in and building toward the future.”

Valdes offered this nugget of hope.

“You have to keep working, you know?" the captain said. "We have some chances to be in the playoff. We know that is going to be hard, but we have to keep working." (By the way, Hackworth said Valdes' status is up in the air for Saturday at New England. Something to follow.)

And finally, Danny Cruz -- while shaking his head, seated at his locker -- had this to say.

“No excuses,” he said. “I feel awful for the fans and awful for the organization.”

Not the kind of words you'd like to hear from the guys in the locker room. But can you blame them?

Allow me to put into perspective the Union's inability to close out a half: The Union have allowed 30 goals this season, 17 of which have been in the final 15 minutes of a half. Even worse, 9 of them have come inside the final five minutes of a half ... and two of those were tonight.

Not exactly playoff-caliber soccer, is it?

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