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

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.

On what needs to change to alter results:
From my perspective, I think our problem over the course of this season so far has been not one of a tactical nature, more of an execution. Sometimes that’s tactical, sometimes that’s technical. I think as a team, our mentality has wavered at times, and I think it hasn’t been a problem for (whole) games or preparation, but in moments in games, we have obviously let in some chances that I feel like if we were stronger, if there was better communication, if we were cutting out plays in advance of getting in dangerous areas, we could be a much better team than we are now record-wise.

On the mood of the locker room:
It’s not one of happiness, I’ll tell you that. But I do think that overall the players still have a belief in themselves and a belief in each other. The teams I’ve been around where you get into this kind of situation with these results, it’s easy to start pointing fingers, to start having little incidents arise in training and things like that. We haven’t seen that. We still have a group of guys working hard and doing the same things that we’ve been doing since day 1, and that’s all really positive. I think we’re as a team, we want to put Saturday behind us and we’re looking forward to this Sunday to hopefully rectify that situation.

On the growing sense of frustration:
It’s very natural. You get frustrated when you look back on it and you’re like, you really question how you’re in the position that you’re in because you think, ‘hey, we should’ve won that game. We should’ve gotten three points here. We should’ve gotten a draw in that game. That was a point.’ And you start to look at all the points you let slip away, and it really becomes frustrating, especially when you think you’re a team that is playing at a high level, which we do. Particularly, you play a good game Wednesday, then you have the kind of performance we did Saturday. It’s a little bit baffling. Natural for them to have that frustration, even that anger, and as a coach, I’m fine with that. I would be a little upset if I didn’t see that coming out of the players. They know that. They are absolutely understanding of the situation and are taking responsibility for it. Those are all positive signs. What we have to do is just concentrate one game at a time. It’s a big ask to go out to LA and say you have to win a game, but that’s what our focus is right now.

On Amobi Okugo's performance in midfield:
There’s absolutely some questions that have to be answered in that regard. Credit to Amobi for having the performances that he hand, except that we continue to struggle in our backline, so that’s where we have to find some stability and we have to improve. You come off two games where you score a total of five goals, and with the kind of defense that we think we’re capable of playing, you would expect us to get a result in at least both those games. It does pose a real question for us. But at the same time, I think that’s a good sign that Amobi’s played well in both those games, and it does give you some options.

On Ethan White's situation:
I think Ethan is a guy that so far has clearly been beneath both Wheeler and Austin and Amobi. But he has played well in training. I’ve said that. He went on loan to Harrisburg, didn’t have a great performance. It was probably a tough game for him to play in there. But he’s going to be a guy who we probably need to look at, so he is a guy that we continue to look at in training and is continuing to battle for that position. It’s not like we’re satisfied with that position, so it opens up an opportunity for sure.

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