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

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Monday's training camp reflections

As promised in my daily coverage, let’s start with highlights of that Carlos Valdes goal, plus a write up of the game so the Spanish speaking readers can correct my interpretation.

Here’s Valdes’ tweet from Sunday night as well.

Onto some impressions from practice today:

- Kind of hard to find fault with manager John Hackworth's delineation of players into squads for 11-on-11 mini-games. The first team reads:




Le Toux-Casey-McInerney

With the exception of perhaps Jeff Parke for one of the central defenders, I see this as a likely opening -day starting XI.
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Friday, January 25, 2013

Wheeler brings tales of Finland's second division to Union

Among the new faces on the Union this season is striker Aaron Wheeler, and in addition to a wealth of experience in the lower divisions of American soccer, the 24-year-old brings a unique set of soccer travels to Philly.

Wheeler spent last season with FC KooTeePee in the Finnish second division. He scored two goals in 17 league appearances for a team that finished seventh in the Ykkonen but left Scandinavia with a bagful of unique experiences.

“It was awesome. I’ve never lived that far away,” Wheeler said of living in the town of Kotka, where the club is based. “… There’s some things you take for granted in the U.S. Like over there, they only had bikes to get around places. It’s cold, still snowing in May.”

Perhaps the biggest thing to overcome was a language barrier, one that comes with a cultural aspect to it. Read more »

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Finding a place for Amobi Okugo in 2013

When it came time to pick a new captain in light of the departure of Carlos Valdes on loan, Brian Carroll seemed a pretty obvious choice to Union manager John Hackworth. But the skipper entering his first full season at the helm was just about as definite as to where he sees Amobi Okugo fitting into his squad.

How those two players fit may be one of the first conundrums in Hackworth’s newly minted 4-3-3 system.

“It’s still a little bit to be decided, but certainly having (Bakary Soumare) healthy and when Jeff (Parke) gets here from national team duty, I think you’ll see Amobi first and foremost in the midfield,” Hackworth said Monday at YSC Sports. “His versatility is fantastic for us. It gives a lot of questions to ask for the staff, which any coach wants to have. He’s one of our top returning players, so I would expect him to be in there somewhere no matter what, but it’s a good problem to have.”
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Monday, January 21, 2013

Adu's Philly depature a tale of great expectations

“He certainly didn’t meet the very lofty expectations that were placed on him within our team.” 
 John Hackworth

In a sentence, whether he intended to or not, the Union manager got to the heart of the Freddy Adu saga Monday.

Freddy Adu in a Union shirt is a thing of the past. (Times File)

The Union and the enigmatic attacker announced an end to their year-and-a-half relationship, with Adu persona non grata at training camp and the Union actively shopping the 23-year-old attacking midfielder.

To summarize briefly, the Union presented new contract terms under which they would consider bringing Adu back, ones more in line with the type of production (seven goals and one assist in 37 matches) featured in his second stint in MLS. Adu chose not to take the pay-cut, bringing the teams to an impasse as they search for a new destination for the attacking midfielder. The decision has been several months in the making, and Hackworth is adamant in that the door is closed to a return.

There are a variety of reasons behind the departure. Hackworth admitted that Adu posed “a little bit” of a selection problem with how he integrated to the team’s tactics. To those ends, Adu often looked lost, drifting on the left wing through long stretches without possession. Painting him as a selfish player may be a bit harsh, but he’s a technically-gifted player whose best position is as a central-operating midfielder and whose work rate can suffer if he’s not seeing enough of the ball. With Hackworth moving to a 4-3-3 formation, opportunities for him to occupy that role are even scarcer.

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