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

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

John Hackworth's weekly press conference, July 10

The Philadelphia Union manager had plenty to say after his team's two-game road trip and with a crucial game looming against Chivas USA at home Friday. Here are the details:

On the lack of playing time for Roger Torres:
The same thing we see and expect from every player on our roster. There’s effectiveness, there’s a commitment, there’s a preparation before you ever get on the field that you can play the game at the level that we’re demanding and that you know your role and responsibilities within the structure of our team. Don’t get me wrong, I almost feel like I’m defending our staff because we feel like we like Roger. He’s here for a reason, but he’s not playing for a reason as well, and there’s other guys who have continued to stay ahead of him and there are guys that have risen above him, and Roger understands that. But when he gets an opportunity like he did in Houston, he has to make the most of it. We’ve had several discussions as a staff, with Roger, he’s still a young guy that we believe in, we want him to be successful here, but a lot of that has to do with Roger and what he does on and off the field.

On what role new acquisitions Fabinho and Oka Nikolov will play Friday:
I haven’t made that decision yet. As with anybody that we bring in, at two different positions, they’re battling with other players on the roster. We don’t really want to rush a guy, but at the same time if a guy is ready and if he’s done it in training and had the kind of games for him to prepare, we’ll give them a chance. For both of them, we’re happy where they are and haven’t made the final decision on anyone.

On preparing for Chivas USA's new look attack:
A little bit. It’s a dangerous one because Chivas under coach (Jose Luis) Real has done a fantastic job kind of restructuring that group. I’m really impressed by how they’ve played the first two road games of this trip, getting a draw at Dallas and a draw at Montreal. Two big results for them. Their organization has improved dramatically, so we know it’s going to be difficult, and it’s a different kind of situation facing a team like that versus the last four games we’ve had.

On the challenge of preparing for a team that has changed so much recently:
I think we have a good idea, but there’s not as much work to kind of look at. You’ve got to kind of throw out everything they did up until when Coach Real came in because they’ve changed so much. They’re clearly a much more defensive team. Their line has dropped dramatically. They’re keeping a lot of numbers behind the ball. They’re being patient. They’re really keying off of being a team that is organized and doing their individual jobs and trying to do it collectively as well. Again, we’ll look at all of the games under Coach Real, and obviously it’s a big difference from before.

On the similarities between Chivas and Toronto in their tactics:
I would say it’s probably going to be similar, and that’s a challenge for us as a team because we probably have not been as good against teams that have sat back, because when the game gets a little open and stretched, that’s where we’ve been good this year. We’re a team that likes to attack from the start, put teams under pressure, but when you just sit so many numbers behind the ball, it’s difficult to break down. Something we’ve been working on, and hopefully we’ll be able to break through on Friday, but the longer the game goes without a goal or if you give up a goal early, it makes it extremely difficult.

On preparing for the possible debut of Chivas defender Carlos Bocanegra:
Only from the fact that we know Carlos really well. (Assistant coach) Jim (Curtin) played with him, and I coached him. He’s a fantastic player. It certainly makes them a lot better. He will bring instant leadership to that club and do a great job organizing the backline. My expectation is that he will play, and that just makes it that much harder for us to break them down. Carlos, I think, is coming back to the league at a point where he’s still really in a very good point as an individual. I know how he takes care of himself and the way he prepares for things, so I expect him to be in good form.

On the recent play of Zac MacMath:
I think Zac had a very good spell of games. He’s in I think a really good place right now, probably the best we’ve seen him. He’s been really good in training. He kept us in the Salt Lake game in a lot of situations. Definitely there’s nothing he could do really on either goal there. Against Houston, he definitely kept it at zeroes for a long time, and I think he even got a piece of the header on Ricardo (Clark’s) goal. I’m happy where he is, and it’s good to see Zac, who, we brought in Oka (Nikolov) and there’s a little bit of competition and pressure there, has stepped up his game I think exactly like we wanted him to. … I don’t know if it’s exactly that. Oka is coming off a little bit of a layoff, so he needs some time to get adjusted. For Oka, I know the heat and humidity of the Eastern seaboard is a little different than it was in Germany, so he’s adjusting. But I think Zac has said, ‘hey, I know what I have to do and I’m going to try to do it to the best of my ability, and that’s been good.’

On the pairing of Aaron Wheeler and Conor Casey at forward against Houston:
We wanted to try Aaron and Conor together. They are definitely No. 9s, target guys. They’re not exactly the same, and to be honest it didn’t work as well as it would’ve hoped. But part of that was that we had some injuries and we had to make some adjustments and had to go deep in our roster. But it was a good opportunity. I thought they actually did pretty well with it. I can’t emphasize enough how difficult playing in Houston is when it’s 90-plus degrees and 100 percent humidity and it’s just tough to keep going. Plus Houston’s a good team, and there’ s a reason their record at home is so impeccable. But I was happy with Aaron, and I don’t know if it’s our version of the bash brothers, but it’s going to evolve a little bit.

On the performances of Keon Daniel and Jack McInerney at the Gold Cup:
Really happy for Keon. It’s funny because we were joking before Keon left that, ‘hey, I’ve seen you score some amazing goals for Trinidad; score a couple so that you’re going to come back here confident and then you can score a couple for us.’ So it’s good to see Keon get off to a good start. And I’ve been texting with Jack. He seems like he’s just soaking the whole experience in. I would’ve loved to see him get on, but hopefully he’ll get a chance here in the next couple of games.

On the possibility of more arrivals during the transfer window:
We do have an opportunity here and we are actively trying to pursue a couple of players. But we really just have one spot available. It has to be the right player for our team. It has to be a player that we’ve gone out and targeted, but I can’t say much more than that.

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