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Hackworth on dismissals, stability, more news

Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

Philadelphia Union

John Hackworth held a teleconference on Monday with reporters to discuss the dismissals of Diego Gutierrez and Alecko Eskadarian from the Union. Check out PSP’s selected transcript of the teleconference for extended quotes.

Hackworth said of the firings, “The bottom line is they are not with the Philadelphia Union anymore. It was my decision, and I really don’t want to go into the details of it. I have an immense amount of respect for both individuals. We’re going to move forward with our club and try to sort out roles and responsibilities of our staff.”

Nick Sakiewicz confirmed that Hackworth is now the man in charge. “This is John Hackworth’s time. The Team Manager is in charge of all personnel decisions. He’s the Manager and he’s building his team. I have to give him the latitude to get it done. Peter didn’t get it done, so I fired him…John has been given the full authority to prove what he can do. It’s his job to lose the interim title.”

So, who will be handling the former responsibilities of Gutierrez and Eskadarian? Hackworth said, “Rob Vartughian and Brendan Burke will oversee the scouting of American players, and, on and international front, I will be handling that…Look, also having Nick Sakiewicz is a plus, with his wealth of contacts in the business, we are operating on all fronts. We have our eyes on some targets, but we only want to make a decision if it truly makes sense. It’s about stability going forward.”

For those worried that Gutierrez’s firing means the Latin American pipeline has dried up, Hackworth said not to worry, “I think we’ll be OK in that department.”

About new signings in the transfer window, Hackworth said, “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.”

Hackworth also said that the Union’s U-18 coach, Jim Curtin, will now be in charge of the team’s youth system. He said Curtin “does a fantastic job and probably has not gotten as much publicity as credit as he deserves.” Curtin, who is from Oreland, PA, played at Chicago Fire from 2001-2008, his time there overlapping with that of Peter Nowak, Gutierrez and Bakary Soumare.

Gutierrez said of his dismissal, “Basically, it was a conversation (Hackworth) and I had and our views moving forward didn’t match up. He wants to have a clean slate to take advantage of the opportunity he has.”

Gutierrez’s departure means that the Union is without a single native-Spanish speaker on staff. Hackworth said of that concern, “I am not going to say I am fluent in [Spanish], but I know enough in my years as a coach to be able to relate to our players. I don’t want to go into the details of it, but…Diego was never a coach; he was very rarely in our locker room, if ever in the locker room. It was always Peter, myself and [assistant/goalkeeper coach] Rob Vartughian.”

The responsibilities of his new position, combined with the technical staff shakeup, means Hackworth’s workload has dramatically increased. He says in an article on the Union’s website, “I’m enjoying the (heck) out of it.”

In a letter to season ticket holders, Nick Sakiewicz said,

“When we launched the Union two and a half years ago we decided to build our team from the ground up with a spirited group of young players committed to playing a relentless, exciting, attacking and authentic brand of soccer. We had gotten away from consistently delivering on that promise and it was necessary to make a change. You deserved our team getting back to playing the Union brand of soccer we all know, love and enjoy watching. I sincerely hope that you all know that the decisions (even the tough ones) are always made in the best interest of our club and you the fans. The decisions won’t always be right, but they will always put the club, the fans and the manner in which we compete first.”

The Union are enlisting the help of local fellow pro teams in the effort to ensure there is a packed PPL Park when the Union host Kansas City in the US Open Cup semifinals next week with offers to Eagles and Flyers fans. The offers allow Eagles and Flyers fans the chance to sit together in specific sections with tickets available at a special group rate. Any Sixers or Phillies fans get such an offer too?

The Inside Doop takes a look at what went wrong in Saturday’s loss to Houston.

The Bleacher Report predicts a 4-1 win for LA over the Union on Wednesday.

At Goal.com, the Union receives an honorable mention for underachieving team in their midseason awards

Power rankings? At Soccer America, the Union remain at No. 18. Interestingly, the Union move up one spot to No. 16 in Goal.com’s rankings despite the loss to Houston, apparently on the basis of the Gutierrez and Eskadarian firings. At SI, they also move up one spot to No. 16, this time because they “likely should have garnered a point” against Houston “but succumbed on a late penalty instead.”

“A source” tells the Brotherly Game, “Signings are coming soon. There is something in the works. It’s kinda tight lipped right now…But Nick is working some serious, heading spinning wheeling-and-dealing moves.”

Chandler Hoffman did a video segment with PhillyHealthWatch.com in which he talks about maintaining fitness as an elite athlete and more.

Local

Philly Soccer News rounds up the results from the semifinals of the US Youth Soccer Region I Championships.

MLS

Montreal Impact confirm that they have offered Alessandro Nesta a deal.

Here come those Frank Lampard to LA Galaxy rumors again.

MLSsoccer.com’s Food Week kicks off with a look at how sports nutrition strategies have changed since the start of the league.

In lower division news, Eric Wynalda has been named interim manager of Atlanta Silverbacks of the NASL.

Phoenix, AZ will be the new home of a USL PRO franchise in 2013.

News broke over the weekend that an “anonymous donor” had paid for NPSL side FC New York to wear jerseys bearing Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s name and campaign slogan. When the team played New York Red Bulls U-23 team on Saturday, said jerseys were nowhere in sight – after all, FIFA regulations ban political messages on players’ kit. FC New York did, however, fail to provide water and food for the visitors. Their advertising for the game apparently also implied that the senior Red Bulls squad would be on hand so that an agreed upon pre-game autograph session went longer than expected and the visitors had inadequate time to warmup for the game. Untraceable contributions, cutting essential services, misleading messages—it’s a goldmine of political irony.

Women’s Soccer

Paul Riley, speaking after a recent Elite League match between his New York Flash and Chesapeake Charge, which he described as being “about six levels below a WPS game,” says of the level of play, “I keep going back to the same thing, everyone feels sorry for themselves, but they need to get over it and move on, and start playing…The players walk out and they see it’s not WPS, so maybe we’ll just give 75 percent tonight. I think Western New York and Chicago feel that way sometimes – maybe not Boston because they’re getting good crowds, but maybe they feel that way away from home. It’s hard for the players. We’re training every day. We’re fit. I just don’t understand it. In practice, we look sharp. I wish practice was game day. There’s not enough drive. There’s not enough passion for the game…If you paid money, you want to see some entertainment value, and I don’t think the entertainment value is there, I have to be honest with you. How are we going to make the sport succeed like that?”

US

Megan Rapinoe has confirmed something that was widely understood if not openly acknowledged. “I think they were trying to be respectful and that it’s my job to say, ‘I’m gay.’ Which I am. For the record: I am gay.” The USWNT star said, “I feel like sports in general are still homophobic, in the sense that not a lot of people are out. I feel everyone is really craving [for] people to come out. People want — they need — to see that there are people like me playing soccer for the good ol’ U.S. of A.”

Ay the CONCACAF Futsal Championships, the USA lost its opening game 5-2 to Panama.

The USA Deaf Soccer Women’s team needs donations for new uniforms for the 2012 World Deaf Football Championships in Turkey.

What to make of this video—you tell me.

Philly Union Talk honors the passing of American soccer historian David Wangerin.

Elsewhere

Sportsmanship is at the heart of soccer. Iker Casillas demonstrated that on Sunday when he asked the referee to end the Euro 2012 final against 10-men Italy without stoppage time. Class, that.

The Euros behind them, Spain is now focused on one thing: the 2014 World Cup.

Ratings were down slightly for the Euro 2012 final compared to 2008. A report from the AP says, “because of a storm that knocked out coverage for a period in Baltimore; Columbus, Ohio; Philadelphia; and Washington, D.C., those markets were not included in the overnight rating.”

Simon Kuper looks at how analytics were used at the Euros.

8 Comments

  1. Doubt Lamps would come as a non-DP, so who of Beckham/Donovan/Keane is out the door? Or does MLS play some Calvinball (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calvin_and_Hobbes#Calvinball) and allow them to sign a fourth, somehow? I’m not really getting giving an “interim” manager so much power, and at the same time, if player decisions are supposed to be in Hack’s court now, why is Nick making deals?

    • The Black Hand says:

      We go from one, “complete control”, manager to another? Seems a little fast to turn over complete decision-making, to a rather inexperienced manager. I’m interested to see what transfers he has in mind. He will have to scour a bit because we are not the ideal MLS destination, for a former high profile player, looking to make a move to the states. I just hope Hackworth keeps his ego in check.

      • Can we put the myth that the coach is the only one making personnel moves to rest. Because If that was the case there is no way Chris Albright makes the squad. His signing happened at what at the time seemed like the Unions PR had hit a low point. )it would get worse) I find it hard to believe he was the best defender available on a think back line and I doubt Peter Nowak would give a shit about the fans enough to sign a local player on his own initiative.

  2. Every time Nick Sakiewicz calls the Philadelphia Union a brand a part of my soul dies. On the other hand it would make an amazing cornerstone of the Nick S. drinking game where the only victory condition is survival.

    • Tie that in to the Rigby “we” and “front runners” drinking game, not to mention his mispronunciations, and you’re sure to require an emergency stomach pump … or perhaps even a liver transplant.

  3. Whenever the Union promises new signings I get real nervous, like I’m about to get punched in the gut. 🙂

    • The Black Hand says:

      The Union are proud to announce the signing of Ronaldinho………’s neighbor….’s nephew!

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