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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Press Conference Extra: John Hackworth, July 2

As July dawns, the Philadelphia Union undertake one of the toughest swings of the season, hitting the road for two games in four days against Real Salt Lake and Houston. Here are manager John Hackworth's thoughts from Tuesday's conference call:

On expectations for this road trip to Salt Lake and Houston:
I think a great outcome would be that we win one of these and tie one of them, so if we got four points. Obviously six is the best, but realistically, and I don’t even know if four is realistic with these two opponents, but I think for our team right now, we’re going in with the mindset that if we can get a draw out of one of these and a win in one, it would put us in really good position

On replacing Jack McInerney the next few games:
It’ll be more based on the matchup. We’re playing two tactically very different teams on the road, and so I think our system and our tactics will change and be dictated by our opponent as we go. We certainly have some good options with Jack being gone, but we’re going to try to make sure we utilize our strengths and see if we can’t take advantage of some of our opponents.

On the tactical flexibility provided by Sebastien Le Toux:
I think it’s extremely important. It gives us some very good options, especially when you’re going on the road and need to have a little bit of an element of surprise sometimes, you want to have that. Sebastien has clearly done very well for us wide, and that’s certainly an option to stay there or we can play him up high, which is a position that he has done very well at for this club in the past.

On the status of Kleberson: He’s getting better, but at the moment, unless something changes drastically today, I would not expect him to travel, at least not on the first leg of this. We might bring him in for the Houston game, but for Salt Lake being that it’s tomorrow, I don’t think there’s a chance him playing.

On recovering from the Dallas draw: I hope so. At least I hope the players are. You know these kinds of games and these situations are going to come up, and you just have to learn from them. And we’ve been a pretty good team at learning from our mistakes and getting on with it, moving on from one game to the next. We’ve been pretty resilient. Our expectation is that we’ll do the same thing. I think we’re playing Salt Lake, and no matter what whether we won draw or lost, ... right now I think they’re playing the best in the league. They’ve obviously gotten a great string of results, and we’re going to play at elevation against a very good opponent, and it’s just going to get harder no matter what. So I think we’ll put the Dallas game in the back of our minds because we have so much more to focus on right now.

On the changes to Real Salt Lake due to the Gold Cup:
I’m really glad that (Kyle) Beckerman is not going to be on the field. Nick Rimando and (Tony) Beltran, I think those are three excellent players and they’re also missing (Alvaro) Saborio. They’re down, but at the same time so are we. We’re missing Keon Daniel and Jack, probably not with Kleberson. I think all teams have to deal with it. I think we probably got a glimpse of how Salt Lake wants to do it when we watched some of their substitution patterns and some of the ways they want to play against Toronto (last week). It’ll be a little bit of guessing game for both teams going into it for sure.

On the importance of Aaron Wheeler moving forward:
We always talk about guys earning it in training, and that’s how he has earned some playing time recently. And for him to go in and score a goal in a game like Saturday was fantastic, but we’re not really surprised because we see those things, those qualities out of Aaron on a daily basis. We’ve been moving him back between center back and forward, and so I think tactics and maybe what our needs are for each of these next couple of games will dictate seeing Aaron on the field.

On where the Union stand in the league at this point:
We like where we are. We feel like we had dropped a couple points where we shouldn’t have, Saturday being an example of that, but at the same time we’ve picked up points a couple places where we weren’t expected to. In reality, I don’t think most people would’ve picked us to be in the position that we’re in right now at the start of the season. I wouldn’t say we’re satisfied, but we know what we are and we know what we’re not. We’re in a good position, and we’ve just got to keep fighting through these dog days of summer, which is always a tough stretch. But I think we’re well prepared and fit, and I really like our mentality right now. From our standpoint, we feel good about ourselves.

On Danny Cruz’s recovery from the New York game: He’s doing well. I was really, really happy that we were able to have him, and when the doctors tell him he’s going to be in a boot for two weeks and he’s going to be out, Danny says, no I’m not. I’ve been around Danny enough that I understand the kind of competitor he is. He played a really good game on Saturday, went a lot longer than any of the coaches really thought he would be capable of going. It was really important for our team. But Danny’s always that way. He’s very selfless in the way he plays and what he’ll do for this team.

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