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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June 26 Press Conference: Hackworth, Carroll and Hoppenot

Saturday's date with Dallas looms large for the Union and dominated the focus of manager John Hackworth, midfielder Brian Carroll and Antoine Hoppenot in Wednesday's press conference. Here's some snippets of what they had to say.

Union manager John Hackworth
On the challenge presented by F.C. Dallas:
I think FC Dallas has had a pretty good start to the year. They’ve been at the top of the table the entire year. Right now they’re sitting third in the Supporters’ Shield, third in the West but have had a very productive start the first half of this season. They’re a very good team in all ways, and we don’t see many weaknesses in their lineup. They’ve been consistent with the way they’ve played, and I just think it’s going to be another big challenge for us here art PPL. The good news is that we can prove we can beat a team ahead of us in the table now, and this one is going to be a good battle because we’re both toward the top of the table.

On the effect of Dallas' date with Portland Thursday:
It depends. I have no idea how Dallas is going to approach their game against Portland. We’ll obviously keep a very close eye on it. But sometimes when you play those games in quick succession, they can actually get you in a little bit of rhythm, and other times, it can be a distraction especially with the travel. I hope it’s the latter for them. I hope they come in fatigued. But our expectation is that we’re going to play one of the best teams in the league Saturday. We’re certainly going to give their best. They’re a team that has been very tough to play against every single time out, and I expect a little bit of the same Saturday.

On avoiding a mental let down after New York:
It is a challenge, there’s no question. We need to try to do a really good job of staying focused and not still thinking about New York. So far this week, I think the team has responded very positively. From what our staff can tell and in the conversations we’re having in our training, we’re fully focused on Dallas, but I’m not going to lie to you and tell you it’s different. There is a normal little bit of let down because you build up to a rivalry game, you build up to the importance of trying to beat someone in front of you for the first time in a year, and that was a huge game. But we knew this stretch was going to be tough the whole time, so I think in our planning and the way that we presented it to the players, we talked about this four-game stretch to being pivotal to our success all year long. So hopefully I think they’ll be very up for it on Saturday.

On this difference between Michael Farfan this year and last:
I don’t think anything has changed with Michael, I just think that our team has gotten better, and I think that we relied on Michael a lot last year, and clearly he had a very good year. He was named an all-star, that got him a lot of attention, and I think teams also started to key on him a lot more. This year, we’ve moved Michael around a lot because he’s versatile. We put Keon in the middle of the field more often because that’s where Keon has played better. That’s maybe not a reflection of Michael playing poorly. I think everybody has this expectation that Michael is ready to have a breakout game if you will, but from my point of view, Michael is exactly the same as he was last year. He’s a very important player. He’s got a lot of quality. He is a good playmaker, but he’s a good possession guy. He’s creative off the dribble, and he does a lot of different things. Besides that, he will put in the work, day-in and day-out.

On if the injuries change the search for a winger:
It doesn’t change it at all. The fact that the summer transfer window doesn’t open until July 9 means that there isn’t a good opportunity. You’re going to have to get through these next three games, unless a guy has been unattached, with what we have now.

On recent success at PPL Park:
We said it earlier in the year that we wanted to make this place a very difficult place to play, and I think we’ve done that and are continuing to do that. And I think we’ve changed the way we are evolving as a team. I think we’re playing better soccer, I think we’re attacking more. So it’s not just about being hard and being good on both sides. We’re really putting an emphasis on being a team that puts the other team on its heels a little bit. And that’s something that thankfully we’ve been able to do two games in a row here.

On roster management during this three-game stretch:
I think we’ll be smart because we have to be. Anytime you’re faced with the selection challenges that we are going into Dallas and then knowing on the back side that we’re going to have to really tough road games, I think we have to play really smart. We have to know that this stretch of three games is going to be very difficult to get through and how we manage our roster at the time being and down a few members is going to be important.

Brian Carroll
On the challenge posed by Dallas:
I think they’re one of the best teams in the league. They just lost the top spot in the West, but they’re right in that running. They’re a very dangerous squad. They’re experienced. They have a lot of young talent and some speed as well. They’ve got a good blend of everything, and it’ll take everything we have and for everyone to play a good match for us to get a result here.

On how happy the Union are with their current standing:
I think we are where we deserve to be. We’re in a good spot, but we can always improve our position. We’ve got a long way to go, we’ve got a lot of work to do and we need to have everybody to continue to step up and play good solid matches from here on out. That’s going to take everyone playing a good game for us to continue to get results, and that’s something we understand that we need to do, and we need to focus on achieving that.

On moving from New York to the Dallas challenge:
We understand that we can’t really take any breaks or feel too good about ourselves because we just need everybody to be focused all the time and continuing to play well. We can’t afford to take breaks or think too highly about ourselves because we just don’t have that luxury. We understand how good Dallas is and how much better we need to play even than against New York to get a result against them. I think everybody is still grounded and just focusing on what they need to do to improve to get ready to have a good performance against Dallas.

Antoine Hoppenot
On the Union's recent success:
I think what we’re doing right now is working pretty well. We’ve won a few games and offensively and defensively, it looks like we’re creating a lot of chances and we’re doing a good job of limiting their chances. I think we’re really hitting their strides, and I think it’s a perfect time to do that midseason and keep getting wins.

On the challenge of facing Dallas:
They’re a good team. They’re big and they’re fast, so they’re won of those teams that they’re going to make it interesting for us and they’re going to make it tough for us to play. We have to keep them from getting a lot of chances. I think it’s going to be a challenge for us to keep the ball and create chances while making we don’t let them get too many counter attacks.

On the difficulty of the next three games:
We look at these next three games as being the most important of the season. Even at the beginning of the season, we knew this was going to be the deciding point of our season. So just being able to start with confidence and a 3-0 win against our rivals, you can’t really ask for anything better. I think that game is really going to help us with our confidence, and hopefully that’ll let us get some momentum going into these games.

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