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John Hackworth press conference: News & notes

Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

Apologies for all the parentheses, ellipses, and commas. Most of the teleconference sounded like it was coming through a tin can from a submarine at the bottom of the ocean.

On the firings of Diego Gutierrez and Alecko Eskandarian

“They are separate situations. I don’t think it’s fair to deal with either of those individuals in the same context. The bottom line is neither of them is working for the Philadelphia Union any more.

“It was my decision. I don’t want to go into the details of it. I have an immense amount of respect for both individuals, but we’re moving forward with the club in sorting out the roles and the responsibilities of the staff. It was important that before we go forward … a decision had to be made.”

Has anyone new been hired?

“No. This situation is…for the moment we’re sticking with the staff we have. And that was one of the choices I had was that I understood that…the workload would have to be assumed by our current staff. And while that is a challenge for all of us, I don’t think that it’s an impossible job for us to do. We have a lot of skill sets within our staff….I think we’ll certainly need to hire for those positions as we move forward. At the moment, our most important job is to try to make sure to build and get the first team moving in the right direction and continue what we’ve done over the last couple of weeks.

On if he is ready to take on the responsibilities

“The minute that Nick hired me as interim team manager, he gave me the authority to make the final decision. So with Bakary [Soumare], I think we made an excellent decision there…That was ultimately my decision working with our ownership group and our whole staff, including Diego. I’d argue that was the best, and biggest signing in the league during the transfer window.”

Clarifying who handles the Academy and the scouting

“As far as the Academy is concerned…we have a very high level staff for our youth program. Jim Curtin, who has been the head coach for our under-18 program, has been working very close with Iain Munro….We have the Generation Adidas Cup coming up and everything is in place there and Jim is overseeing that. We’re very happy. Jim does a fantastic job and he’s probably not gotten as much publicity or credit as he deserves.”

“With the scouting – Rob Vaurtugian is heading that up…Brendan Burke obviously has some excellent contacts with some of the young American players, is helping there. On the international front, I’m working with a lot of the contacts I’ve had over the last 10 years. Having Nick Sakiewicz…he’s a wealth of a resource for our club. I don’t think there’s a person in the business that has more contacts and relationships.”

On whether the loss of Gutierrez hurts the Union’s scouting ability with Latin American players

“I think it’s evident that his job, and when he was hired here as a scouting director…That he has fantastic relationships in a lot of those markets and did an excellent job. I want to reinforce the fact, that if you look at where I’ve been in the world and my soccer experience, I’ve been to all those countries and have some pretty strong relationships…I think we’re going to be okay in that department without Diego.”

On the transfer window

“We have our eye on some targets. We only want to make a decision if it truly makes sense. We’ve had a lot of turnover with this team this year alone. One thing the ownership has expressed to me is that they want to bring some stability to that. We’re only going to make a move if we’re absolutely sure it can improve us…We have a lot of players in our locker room that we have 100 percent confidence in and that have played well in the last couple of weeks. We want to make sure we give them an opportunity to continue that.”

How do you keep guys fresh

“We have to make sure to do everything to get all of our guys rejuvenated and recovered from our last game. So far that’s been done well. We also have to make sure that every single guy is dealt with individually. We have a process and some testing that we do on individuals to make sure that they’ve recovered…We rested a couple of guys with Freddy Adu and Michael Lahoud…We’re going to have to manage our roster…make sure the guys we put out in our first XI are 100 percent ready to go. So far that’s a huge challenge, this a very long stretch of games.”

Other Notes

Jack McInerney has recovered from the stomach bug that kept him out of the game in Houston.

Sheanon Williams is still not 100 percent but should be available against LA. Ray Gaddis will also be available after serving a one game suspension.

Hackworth called the PK that gave Houston their game winner “questionable.”


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