Blogs > Union Tally

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

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Forward thinking: Pondering the possiblities of the Union striker search

In three weeks or so, the tenor of the Union’s position on summer reinforcements for the forward line has gone from no to maybe to specifics on who and what they’re looking for, a shift which constitutes warp speed for the club.
Kenny Miller might be too pricy an option
at forward for the Union. (AP)

It’s becoming blatantly obvious that something has to change quickly. The Union’s center forwards have five goals this season, four (excluding Jack McInerney’s one) from players still on the roster, and two of those were from the penalty spot. The club endured a stretch where no Union player scored from open play in five matches, a major contributing factor to the club’s franchise-record nine-game winless streak.

Those aren’t even the bleakest stats. Consider this: Conor Casey has two shots on goal this season in eight appearances (300 minutes). Antione Hoppenot has two shots, none on target, in 10 short yet increasingly futile substitute appearances.

The answer to the Union’s offensive woes must come from somewhere, and last Tuesday prior to the trip to Kansas City, manager John Hackworth had plenty to say about what he’s looking for.

Among the critical points from Hackworth are that:

- The club is looking within MLS and abroad.
- The club can’t afford to bring home another national teamer via allocation.
- The club is looking for someone to make an impact.

The push and pull of looking domestically or abroad is obvious. Hackworth admitted that the Union are unlikely to be able to pry a player of the quality they want away from their current MLS club, while eliciting international help would mean that reinforcements would be delayed until July 15, six games down the road.

This Wednesday, Hackworth added a new wrinkle to the discussion in broaching the topic of where the money and roster room would come from.
Read more »

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

John Hackworth press conference, May 21

Apologies if this sounds familiar, but until things significantly change at PPL Park, the tenor of the questions and answers is likely to be the same for a while. A few wrinkles are in there today, but otherwise, more of the same.

On the challenge of a West Coast swing:
We take this as an opportunity. You’ve got two games on the West Coast. When you’re planning these things out, it’s much easier to have two flights rather than four. You’d lose two days of travel if you came back and forth. So it makes sense to stay out there during this time, especially playing on a Sunday then the following Saturday. I think it’s good that our guys are going to be together full-time. That’s important because I think when you’re in these moments where things are not going your way, you’ve got to stick together and you’ve got to fight through it, so we’ll try to do that. But we still are playing the LA Galaxy on Sunday, which is a huge challenge and a game that we feel like we need to get a result in.

On righting the ship:
I think we have to look at the positives from our Kansas City game. I think we also have to look at all the positives from the games early in the year where we played really good soccer and had mistakes here or there. We continue to think that we are a good soccer team. The results are not showing that right now, so we have to go out there and make sure we do everything possible, maybe adjust some things tactically to give ourselves a better chance to be successful in those games. Saturday, for me, was not a really good indication because I think that game could’ve been much different. You have to give New England credit. We did not play very well in some moments, but I think that game could’ve been different in a lot of ways. We’ve just got to go back to it, believe in ourselves and see if we can get results. Honestly, this two-game road swing on the West Coast is not an ideal time to say that you have to get results, but that’s in fact where we are. We have to do that.
Read more »

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Union-Revolution: Lineups and pre-match thoughts

Philadelphia Union (4-3-3)
Bench: Blake, Hoppenot, White, Fred, Pfeffer, Casey, Le Toux

New England (4-4-2)
Bench: Jackson, McCarthy, Woodbine, Caldwell, Neumann, Rowe, Davies 

- Well, there’s a new defensive pairing in Austin Berry and Aaron Wheeler, which could be severely tested by the speed of the New England backline. There will be a significant onus on Amobi Okugo to help cover runners with his speed as he fills in for Brian Carroll for the second straight game. The fullbacks will also be called upon heavily to corral Diego Fagundez, while it’ll be a physical battle between Patrick Mullins and Teal Bunbury with the two big Union center backs.

- John Hackworth goes with the safe option in midfield. He had little choice but to deploy Okugo there without Carroll, Maurice Edu and Michael Lahoud, and he pairs Leo Fernandes (after a less-than-stellar performance against Kansas City) with Vincent Nogueira. It’s a possession-oriented approach, but it has to be done well.

- Look to the bench for a couple of rare sights. Zach Pfeffer makes his second sub appearance of the year, while Fred is back with the Union in a kit. They aren’t just there to be there. They could very well get a look today with the paucity of options.

- The Union get a break with Bobby Shuttleworth out due to a concussion sustained in training. That means original Union member Brad Knighton will start for the Revs.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

John Hackworth conference call, May 13

The Union skipper didn't say a whole lot Tuesday as his team prepares to travel to Sporting Kansas City, but there's enough in there to be interesting. Here we go...

On feeling the pressure from the fans:
I certainly heard the fans on Saturday. It’s impossible not to hear a lot of the talk. I’ve told you guys before, and I’ve tried to be very diligent about staying away from reading stuff in the press lately. The reality is that it’s impossible not to be affected by it, and I wouldn’t say me as much as maybe what it does for the players. I think with this position, you have to understand that ti’s going to be part of the business. For the players, though, it’s an entirely different thing because it can certainly have a negative impact on them, and to be honest, I think it has.

On his job security:
I can’t answer that. All I can do is come to work every day and try to continue the plan that we’ve had for a long time to put this team in a position where we can be successful. That’s my sole purpose and goal, and really to try to alleviate any pressure or negative backlash the players might be feeling. I know from Nick Sakiewicz and our front office, I feel like I’m supported. But that’s a question for them more so than me.

On the team atmosphere:
I just think that we have a good locker room, we have a good team. I think the players believe in what we’re doing, and when I say they’ve been negatively impacted, I mean it’s hard for them to be in that stadium and have their total concentration be on putting their best performance when I think it’s a distraction. That’s just my own personal opinion by the way. Again, I’m trying to make sure that they do that. That is not a concern at all on my end. It will be alright either way. The focus has to be on them and their performance.

On if he still thinks this is a playoff team:
Certainly, again, the reality is that we have a big hill to climb to put us back in that position. I think it is absolutely possible. More importantly, I think this is a team – and in any organization or sport – I think you have to have time and patience to really build something the way that we’re trying to do it. I know that’s not something I can ask of the fans, so I’m not even going to try. But I absolutely believe in the guys in the locker room. I believe there’s a lot of quality there that can be very successful in the long run.
Read more »

Labels: , , , , , ,

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Union-D.C. United: Lineups and prematch thoughts

Philadelphia Union (4-3-3)
Bench: Blake, Wheeler, Bone, Williams, Cruz, Fernandes, Le Toux

D.C. United (4-4-2)
Bench: Dykstra, Birnbaum, Attakora, Silva, Caskey, Doyle, Jeffrey 

- Instead of passively waiting for their luck to change, the Union are making some changes, and it appears to be Sheanon Williams and Aaron Wheeler bearing the brunt by heading to the bench. Austin Berry returns to the starting XI for the first time since April 12 against Real Salt Lake.

- Up top, it’s nominally a 4-3-3, but with a little versatility to maybe go 4-4-2 depending on how Conor Casey and Andrew Wenger organize.

- Tonight will be a homecoming for Jeff Parke, who spent last year with the Union before being traded in the deal that landed the allocation spot for Maurice Edu. We’ll see how well he’s received.

- For D.C., Eddie Johnson returns from an injury, but Union killer Nick DeLeon misses out. The Union backline will have to sort out the partnership between Johnson and Fabian Espindola while also worrying about Davy Arnaud pushing through the middle.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

John Hackworth presser May 7: Sorry if you've heard this before

Simple answers, not to mention win No. 2, continue to elude John Hackworth and his Union side. Here's what he had to say Wednesday about his team's loss to Seattle last week and its pivotal visit from D.C. United this week.

On the building pressure:
I think there’s always pressure, in particular you have the string of results that we’ve had. It builds. There’s no getting around that. But at the same time, when you have a team that you believe in and that you think is capable of scoring goals and you look at some of the stats of how many chances we’re creating, ti gives me some hope that we’re going to get out of that. And once we do, I think there’s a string of good performance and a lot more goals that will follow.

On Zac MacMath's performance in Seattle:
We just need to build off performances like Zac’s. He kept us in a game, a really high-level game on Saturday night. It was an excellent save, and he’s had a very good year. We need other guys to feed off him and have those kinds of performances so that collectively as a team we are more consistent and we’re playing from the first whistle to the last whistle.

On preparing for D.C. and Eddie Johnson:
You look at D.C.’s front four, and Eddie, while he has not gotten on the scoresheet yet, he is a major influence on that team and them having a successful early part to the season. So we know that for the second consecutive week that we’re going to face a pair of forwards in Fabian Espindola and Eddie that are in really great form. They’re combining well. It’s going to be a really tough task for us, but I think we’re up to the challenge. Hopefully we can do as good a job containing them as we did Dempsey and Martins for the most part.
Read more »

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,