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“Our Achilles heel”: Hack on finishing, attacking as a team, more news

Photo: Michael Long

Philadelphia Union

John Hackworth believes the Union’s scoring woes lie not in an inability to create chances but in finishing. “If you look at the way we play and how teams have played against us, I would argue — if you look at stats alone — we’ve outplayed our opponents. We’re not having a tough time playing well. We’re having a tough time finishing. I’ve talked about execution, and that’s our Achilles’ heel…If anything, we have a chip on our shoulder and something to prove because we’ve played well and haven’t gotten the results.”

You can be sure the Union are spending plenty of time on finishing during the extended two-week break that is the result of the upcoming World Cup qualifiers before the game in Toronto on Sept. 15. Hackworth said, “This week, we are tracking every single goal scored in training. Those stats aren’t going to lie. So going into next week, we’ll have a pretty good idea who is finding the back of the net on a consistent basis for our team.”

Hackworth also said, “I think we have a talented pool of strikers and every single one of them has an opportunity right now. Jack McInerney, Chandler Hoffman, Antoine Hoppenot, Freddy Adu — we have guys that have the ability to find the back of the net on a regular basis. I want to see everybody do it. I’ve said this—the way we play is not suited for one guy. We attack as a team.”

Looking forward in terms of fixing the Union’s scoring woes, Chris Vito points to the example of Columbus and their rise “from midseason irrelevance to postseason capable with the additions of Jairo Arrieta and Federico Higuain” and writes, “The long-term fix will arrive in the offseason transfer window.” Yes, he knows you already know that.

Zac MacMath comes in at No. 17 on the Castrol Weekly Top 20. In the full index, the top five Union players are Jack McInerney (No. 33), Zac MacMath (No. 48), Carlos Valdes (No. 98), Gabriel Gomez (No. 99), and Amobi Okugo (No. 110).

Zach Pfeffer and Union academy goalkeeper Zackary Steffen have been named to the US U-18 MNT 20-player roster that will be training for 11 days in the Netherlands Sept. 6-17. There they will play friendlies against the Netherlands as well as club teams from Feyenoord Rotterdam, Borussia Dortmund and Club Brugge. Pfeffer is one of three professionals on the roster.

John Hackworth reflects on having the interim tag removed from his job title and describes the overwhelming support he has received in the way of phone calls, voice mails, text messages and emails:

“I haven’t been able to get back to all the people yet who got in touch. It’s fantastic. The coolest part for me is a lot of ex-players that for whatever reason I haven’t stayed in contact with or haven’t heard from, for them to reach out and say congratulations and well-deserved, the kind words, it’s fantastic. Sometimes, as a coach, you’re so focused on the team and you end up being focused on results. That’s literally what everybody on the outside looks at. You forget about the relationships you have and some of the impressions you make on people.”

Chase Harrison will be appearing at the Patriot FC kickoff event this evening at Brownsburg Park in New Hope. Patriot FC was formerly known as Upper Makefield-Newtown Soccer Club.

The Washington Times looks at how Lionard Pajoy is settling in DC. Pajoy says, “I may have wanted to score goals and make the playoffs in Philadelphia. But those goals translate here just the same.”


Harrisburg City Islanders’ Lucky Mkosana, who led the team in scoring with 7 goals and 2 assists, and goalkeeper Nick Noble are both up 2012 USL PRO Award finalists, Mkosana for Rookie of the Year and Noble for Goalkeeper of the Year. Both are currently training with the Union. Reading native Corey Hertzog, on loan from New York Red Bulls to Wilmington Hammerheads, is up for Most Valuable Player.

At PennLive.com, Michael Bullock of the Patriot-News looks at how Harrisburg never quite figured out how to match results with expectations.

Despite the two-loss outing last weekend at the University of Washington’s Husky/Nike Invitational last weekend, the La Salle women’s team remains at No. 1 in the Mid-Atlantic Regional National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Rankings for the third consecutive week.

Chestnut Hill Local looks at the Chestnut Hill College women’s team 3–2 loss to Millersville last weekend. The team is now 0–2.


New England moved ahead of the Union in the Eastern Conference standings, and ended the longest winless streak in the club’s history, with a 2–0 win over Columbus on Wednesday night. The Union is now in ninth place, 2 points behind the Revolution. Last place Toronto is 5 points behind the Union.

LA’s signing of Swedish midfielder Christian Wilhelmsson prompts this question from MLS Talk in the interest of greater transparency: “Must we perpetually deal with the cloak-and-dagger nature of the salary cap situation in Major League Soccer?”

Toronto FC captain Torsten Frings will miss the rest of the season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his hip.

Sporting News looks at the spectacular transformation of the the Kansas City Wiz to Sporting Kansas City.

On Wednesday, the NASL announced it will move to a split-season format beginning in 2013. Union Dues wonders if MLS might follow.


In the Center City area, it appears that beIN Sport en Espanyol is channel number 583 on Comcast. @JeepMattDE tweets how you can hear English language commentary on beIN en Espanyol, “For beIN Sport, on the box, menu, audio setup, set default to English – the new Spanish version of beIN Sport will be in English!”

Goal.com looks at the injury and fitness concerns the USMNT is facing ahead of Friday’s World Cup qualifier against Jamaica.

SI says the shorthanded US team has plenty at stake against Jamaica. Yeah, like qualifying for the World Cup.

The Miami Herald profiles Fabian Johnson.

Starting with the candidates in Jeff Kassouf’s article in the Guardian we linked to yesterday, ProSoccerTalk looks at possible candidates to replace Pia Sundhage as head coach of the USWNT.

Fox Soccer talks to Megan Rapinoe.


The Spanish government has approved the Spanish Football Federations plans to hold the Super Cup in China starting in August of 2013.

Sepp Blatter believes the Ballon d’Or should go to a Spanish Player.

Sir Alex Ferguson says he’s interested in having Usain Bolt play for Manchester United—in a charity match next year.

Financial Fair Play. ESPN examines how it might work while FCBusiness.com looks at discussions within the Premiership about spending limits.

The AP reports, “About 300 angry fans stormed the headquarters of Egypt’s Football Association in Cairo on Wednesday, protesting a decision to resume league games next month before bringing to justice perpetrators of a deadly stadium riot.” 74 people were killed in a riot after a match between Al-Ahly and Al-Masry in Port Said on Feb. 1.


  1. That split schedule is so convoluted that there is no way the MLS can resist trying it.

  2. How from a coaching or technical standpoint does a team improve on finishing if everything stays the same in terms of creating sufficient opportunities for shots on goal? I’m not being facetious. Just asking what a team can do about that. Is it the type of shots they are taking? Where they are actually shooting the ball in relation to the goal and goalkeeper? Are they simply making bad decisions? Never shooting at exactly the right time, always too early or too late? Is it just plain dumb luck? I know it’s not. I know that preparation and hard work make you more likely to score. I suppose the most important thing is what their goal is, pun intended. How many more goals are they looking to get? Some analysis might be insightful in looking back at their recent unsuccessful shot attempts and seeing what the shooter could have done just a little differently to put the ball in the goal.

    • James "4-3-3" Forever says:

      I mean, I know what you are trying to say. But at the end of the day 8, 9, 10 attempts on goal are attempts on goal. Even teams that score 3 goals in a game are going to find a few of their attempts were haphazard.
      So I don’t think it’s fair to say “if everything stays the same…” as if its a bad thing. If “everything stays the same”, that means 60%+ possession, 5+ attempts on goal … and I’d take those stats every time. You work on your finishing, and odds are you will start banging some in with overall offensive numbers like that.

      • Yeah, it could simply be a case like where a baseball player makes good contact with the ball, hits it hard, he just happens to always hit them at a fielder. It’s not really his fault. It’s hard enough to hit a baseball hard, it’s just a run of bad luck. I wouldn’t bang on a guy if that were happening. If he’s swinging at bad pitches, having poor confidence, and being indecisive, then I’d certainly complain. I guess statistically if you are putting shots on goal, the scoring will come through. You look at all those low percentage golazos. If the guy hits the ball just a fraction of an inch off it hits the bar, goes left or right, whatever. Course these guys are paid to be inch precise with their shots but still.

  3. BeIN sport is on the same channel in the suburbs. English available with the same adjustment (set language to English), but the goals aren’t nearly as exciting…

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