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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.

On how the pressure has affected the locker room:
I know what the guys tell me. It’s hard to talk about what goes on in the locker room because it’s just impossible to explain to the general public. But it’s a very close community, and when you have a group that believes in the process and believes in the work you do and believes in the direction you’re trying to lead them, I think you believe that without having people come out in the press to support you. That part, I’ve always been steadfast in that I believe in it and I believe it’s good, and I wouldn’t expect that to change. These times do test you, there’s no question about that. And that’s what I think makes some of these guys and some of that work even stronger.

On how to go about righting the ship:
The first thing we did is we met as a team and said, ‘look, you cannot worry about anything that we can’t control.’ Our job right now is to go out there and get a result. We played well in the majority of our games, and we just have to translate that into better results. We have to have better execution in both boxes. The players understand that. They know it. I think if anything, we’ve got to the point where the guys have been asked enough questions, they’ve heard the voice of the fans, and now they’re very adamant that, hey we’ve got to pull through this. We’re not going to get out of this until we find a way out of it, and that’s the feeling within the team now.

On the scoring issues, specifically with Andrew Wenger:
Trying to make sure we go through a lot reps in training to put him in the same position we’re putting him in in games and allow him to have chances to execute. It comes with services. It comes with our combination play in the final third. It comes with his execution. But Andrew is still a guy that we believe in, and we feel like once he gets that down – and it doesn’t have to be Andrew, it might be somebody else – but someone in our team is going to have to step up and make that play. And there has to be support, because the issue is not just in front of goal. It’s on the defensive side too. We have to play a complete game. I’ve felt good about our ball movement in every single game we’ve played. For the most part, we’ve done a good job of putting ourselves in excellent positions to score goals. We just haven’t done it.

On playing in Kansas City:
I think it’s a good opportunity because you’re playing the best team in the league right now at their home. Pressure comes off of us in that regard because nobody truly expects us to get a result in Kansas City. Traditionally, it doesn’t matter where either one of us has been in the standings. We’ve have really good games against them. That’s where we are right now. It’s a tough schedule because of three games in a week, but it’s something we have to deal with. The players are anxious to get back out there and try to rectify this.

On the hunt for a new forward:
We’re actually doing both. I think you have to do both continually. You have to look in-league. If you can get a player in-league, you have that player available immediately. If you go outside, you bring a player in from overseas, you talk about the summer transfer window and you’re not going to have that player available until July 15. The reality is we probably have some true, tried and tested players in the league, but you’re not going to lure those top players away from the other teams. The summer transfer window opening up specifically in Europe is a really good opportunity for us to go and maybe find a player who’s coming out of contract, is a quality player that we feel can make a difference for us. So we’re certainly doing our homework in all those areas to try to find that type of player.

On Maurice Edu's call-up and planning around it:
We’re really proud of Maurice. I think it’s a great accomplishment for an individual, but I think it’s also a recognition for our team. I don’t think players get that kind of opportunity unless they have teammates around them that are playing a certain way and are supporting that player. We’re proud of him, and it is very important for our team. As far as losing him, we always through we were going to lose him because we had that belief that Mo was going to get this call-up. But we’ve had guys that have been waiting for their chances, waiting for their opportunity, and are ready to step in. We’re certainly going to have some tactical adjustments that we’re going to have to make, but you might see someone new in that central midfield role.

On Austin Berry and Aaron Wheeler:
Austin was in there and played well on Saturday, and we’re going to try to give him an opportunity to continue to play well. Aaron, meanwhile, is still a player that can be very valuable to us moving forward.

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