John Hackworth's press conference, July 17
On his suspension for Saturday:
I am suspended. I did ask the league if there was a process to appeal it. I was told that there is no process when a coach is thrown out. They did look at the audio and video. There’s not much there, but once the referee makes that decisions, there’s nothing we can do about it. I’m just suspended’ I’ll pay my fine and try not to ever gesture that it’s a handball again to the referee. I will say that I still don’t think that’s worthy of being thrown out of a game, but that’s just my opinion.
On how Hackworth's suspension affects the team's preparation:
Most of our work is done before we get to the game. These guys are professionals. They’ve gone through it. It’s not the first time it’s happened to us; it’s not the first time they’ve dealt with it as professionals. Rob (Vartughian) will be the head coach for the game, and he’ll be supported by Brendan (Burke) and Jim (Curtin). Nothing will change. Our gameplan will be designed well before we get to the kickoff, and the players will adjust accordingly. It’ll be different for me because I’m sure it will be harder for me to sit up in the booth and not have any true interaction with the team, but I have all the confidence in Rob and Jim and Brendan and our players too. Our preparation is always much more important I think than what we do on gameday.
On whether the All-Star snubs are indicative of the Union's lack of respect:
In this case, I would say I don’t think so. Certainly I think we have guys that can make a case for being all-stars, but at the same time, all-stars are interesting because it’s a popularity contest. I think about the Sons of Ben chanting during the game that nobody likes us, so that really has nothing to do with respect. But if it’s a popularity contest and we don’t have guys that are being picked around the league and around the country, to me that’s different and not in the same kind of category as the respect. For us, I hope that keeps some of our younger guys hungry and motivated. From that standpoint, I have no problem with it. That saves us a couple of better days of training, so there are some positives out of it too.
On the system adopted by the Timbers:
I think we’ve run into a couple teams that are like Portland. The one that comes to the top of my head is Real Salt Lake. And Portland has done a really good job. The best thing they’ve done is they haven’t lost a lot of games, and you pile up those points and getting draws and wins and it’s impressive. But they certainly have a good style. They press you very hard. Once they get the ball moving, they’re a really good team with possession. I think they’re one of the top teams right now, and they deserve the credit that they’re getting. Chris gave me a list of the statistics here, and in a lot of categories I think we’re really neck and neck with them. ... I do think it will be a clash of similar styles, and I think we’re going to have to do our best to disrupt their game. I think the team that makes it harder on the day for their opponent is going to be the team that’s successful.
On the change in mindset thanks to the Chivas win:
It changes a lot. I can’t overstate the fact that you live and die almost, not literally, in your feeling at least when you put your head on the pillow at night and wake up in the morning on your last result. It’s tough when you feel like in our previous three games, we felt like we dropped some points, and that’s why Chivas was so important for us. I thought it was great for the guys to battle back like they did, but regardless of what happened and the reasons why, I thought in the end we were going to get the game and were going to get the W. And full credit to the players who did that in the second half.
On the fact that Jack McInerney has yet to play for the U.S. National Team in the Gold Cup:
For me, I think – and I talked to Jurgen (Klinsmann) about this before Jack left – it was more about Jack getting the experience: To come in with the team, to be around their staff and I always value that part of the process very much. I’ve been communicating with Jack. I think Jack understands why he’s there and what the goal is the entire time. I think if there would’ve been an opportunity to get Jack in the game, maybe they would have. But from what I know, he’s been excellent in training, his attitude’s been great, he’s been very humble. He’s been doing all the things that the staff is looking for, and all the feedback I’ve heard from players is the same.
On whether he thinks McInerney could return from the tournament early:
Rob and Jim were telling me earlier that Jurgen had said last night – I didn’t even know this – that there was the possibility that they were going to make some changes. I haven’t heard anything, so we’ll see how that goes. The fact that he didn’t play at all and if they do make some changes, it’ll be interesting to see who those changes are. That’s different than anything I’ve ever experienced as a national team coach. You go into a tournament, you pick your team or you pick a group and you narrow it down to your team that’s playing, and those are the guys you stick with the entire time. When we were going through the Confederations Cup and the Gold Cup last time as part of that staff, we didn’t have this ability to bring in guys, and it’s a very different dynamic, it’s a little bit strange. I don’t know what they’re going to do, but if he comes back to us, great. If he’s there and is gone, we respect the process of the national team and everything the national team is trying to do.
On what McInerney's return could mean to the team's preparation:
It’ll change our thinking for sure because right now we are prepared for him not to be here. It’ll mean we have just another great option. We’ve got a lot of tough choices to make this week. We’ve got a lot of guys back healthy and ready. The last three days of training have been really good, really competitive as always, but guys putting it all out there even though the weather is incredibly hot and humid. It’s been tough, but it’s been good. I think that’s a good thing for a coaching staff to have, some of those selection problems. I’m just thinking first, off the top of my head, I would want to talk to Jack and see where his mind is out, how hard he has worked. I hear he’s working hard in training, but what does that mean? We’d have to gauge all of those things, and we don’t have much time. We’ll see.
On what Hackworth and McInerney need to do to get him back on the field:
Those things are simple between me and Jack. It’s not like Jack is a man of a thousand words. He keeps it pretty simple. So when he and I have our conversations, it doesn’t take too long. I would want to know exactly where he’s at, what’s going on, not only mentally but physically how does he feel. He obviously hasn’t played in a game in a while, and that’ll be a big factor and a part of the discussion. But I’m not worried about it because Jack and I communicate, even though it’s short, we’re usually pretty o the point and can get some answers pretty fast.
On the impact of Conor Casey this season:
I just sit back and smile because, no disrespect to anyone else in the league, but I’ve watched a lot of games and I’ve even watched U.S.-Costa Rica last night, and I just like the fact that Conor Casey is one our team and the things that he is doing, I think he is doing better than guys that are in the league. I’m really, really happy for him. I had this feeling that Conor could do the things that he’s showing us right now. And for him to be fit, you can tell he knows it too in training, is the same way. It’s good to have him, and I’m really happy for him.
On how the Union are preparing for Will Johnson's possible selection Saturday for Portland:
What we hear is that he will be back for sure. I think Will has probably had one of the best seasons of any player in the league. And I’ve known him since he was 15 years old, had a chance to be around him as a coach, and he’s a great person, extremely competitive. He brings a leadership mentality to that team that really drives them. I was hoping Canada was going to go far, at least farther than Saturday, but that doesn’t seem like the case. But we have to deal with it. Both of us – we obviously aren’t getting Keon (Daniel) back, they aren’t getting Rodney Wallace back – we’ll have to make adjustments. If they get Will back and they’ll have him and he will play, that makes them a better team for sure.
On the relationship between Sebastien Le Toux, Casey and McInerney:
Having those three guys – a lot of people, and even within our staff we talked a lot during the offseason about how we could put those three guys on the field together. Initially, Sebastien wanted to be one of those forwards, it took some time and an adjustment period. But Sebastien, like the person that he is, he just wants to understand the role you want him to play and he wants to do that to the best of his ability, and he has turned into the provider. I keep telling him, don’t always think about being the provider because I need you to be selfish, too. I need you to still find the back of the net on your own because that will help us. So the good thing about all three of those guys is that they’re pretty selfless. They’ve taken their opportunities. We’re obviously encouraging guys to go to goal when it’s open. We’re not harping on guys when they maybe take a shot and there may be a better option. That’s just part of the game. But all three of them, I think have combined well and understand their roles and responsibilities and are feeding off each other, and that’s what you want a team to do. I’d throw Danny Cruz into that mix absolutely as well. Putting him on the left isn’t his natural side, but he finds a really good balance. I’m really happy with those guys in particular, and what that means for our team.
On the Union's connection to the newly retired Danny Califf:
Yes and no, but I would say that you need to go a lot deeper to understand what it means to trade for a guy like Danny Califf. We talked to Toronto earlier in the year about trading for Danny, but in the last six weeks, there hasn’t been any discussion because we had no idea that he was going to retire or that Toronto was going to take this very interesting course that they’ve taken with a lot of guys.