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Hack: “We need somebody to step up.” UEFA supports winter move for 2022, more news

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

What needs to change?

Speaking to reporters after Wednesday’s practice, John Hackworth said it’s about players having the courage and confidence to take a shot. “In reality, we just need guys that are willing to make and take that chance. Right now, guys were a little gun-shy because you can tell they didn’t want to take that risk and put themselves out there and potentially put their team in jeopardy. We need somebody to step up and take those difficult chances for sure. And that’s what we’re just trying to put them through reps in training where we’re doing a ton of combination play in front of goal and trying to make the importance, that guys, you’ve got to take these chances because they open up other chances.”

Hackworth said he thought the Union’s performance was better than the scoreline indicated. “[T]he perception that becomes reality is that we’re not in good form, and that’s where I disagree as a coach. I think we’re playing well, and if we continue to play well, I believe that we’ll be in a good spot later on, and it means we have to keep continuing it. It doesn’t mean we’re perfect, because we’re not. But I think we deserve a lot more credit for the way we’re playing than we’re getting right now.”

Hackworth elaborated, “Not only did we get plenty of chances but we scored a legitimate goal. It’s not our fault that it was called back. It is what it is and we have to live with that. But it changes everything. It literally changes everything.”

Cautioning that he didn’t want to come off as one of “those complainers” or “those whiners” by talking about the disallowed goal, Hackworth explained why getting that first goal is so critical. “When you do that in this league, and particularly if we would have done that with that goal, the Dynamo would have had to come out. They would have had to [attack], which would have opened up space in behind and in the middle. And you would have seen a much different game.”

Describing that “a predictive shooting model can be constructed using a simple logistic regression,” David Pleuler writes in the Central Winger column at MLSsoccer.com, “By attaching a probability to every shot taken in the the last two seasons, we can get a glimpse into the types of shots that are being generated league-wide.” That glimpse shows the Union are first in the league in good shots per game and second best in percentage of good shots. Regrettably, a ranking of good shots converted into goals is not provided.

Pleuler observes, “A high ranking for the Philadelphia Union is a bit of a surprise given Jack McInerney’s summertime scoring drought. But, under closer investigation, the volume and quality of McInerney’s chances hasn’t fluctuated – it’s his ability to convert that has regressed (to perhaps a more sustainable rate).”

MLSsoccer.com launched its annual “24 Under 24” series this week as voted on by 24 pundits and MLSsoccer.com editors. While no Union players have appeared yet — the site is at No. 12 on the list as of Wednesday so we should begin to see some Union players today and Friday — another column lists the 24 best players under 24 as determined by their fantasy league stats on the year. Six Union players make the list with three in the top 5: Zac MacMath (No. 1), Amobi Okugo (No. 3), Sheanon Williams (No. 5), Ray Gaddis (No. 16), Jack McInerney (No. 19), and Danny Cruz (No. 23). I’ve not seen this stat before on the Opta Chalboards but apparently McInerney is second in the league in the “Big Chance Fluffed” category with 11 so far this season.

Want to know what Ray Gaddis’ favorite car is, what he has in common with Gordon Ramsey, his favorite vacation spot, and more? Read on.

US Soccer Players looks back over last weekend’s six-pointers and says of the Union’s loss to Houston, “The question for the Union is whether the missed opportunity to pick up points at home will come back to haunt them down a stretch run that includes three games of five games (Sporting twice, Montreal once) against the Eastern Conference elite. It doesn’t get any easier from here.” Yep.

Brotherly Game looks at the good (the defense), the bad (unchanging/unimaginative starting lineups), and the ugly (finishing) for the Union.

The Drop Zone wonders if Freddy Adu’s career should be viewed as a failure or a cautionary tale of hype. Can we pick both?


Starting a team of reserve players, LA Galaxy defeated Isidro Metapan 1-0 in CONCACAF Champions League play on Wednesday. Holland, Pa.’s Greg Cochrane and former Union man Chandler Hoffman both played the full 90.

New York head coach Mike Petke says social media has made man management more important for coaches. “The league has changed; the personalities, there’s more teams, more players. Listen, I also throw in the Facebook, Twitter, all that social media stuff. Players are under a microscope. They’re getting critiqued at all angles. I think it makes players a little more touchy in certain situations. ‘Why am I not starting?’ Because it’s going to be all over Facebook or it’s going on MLSSoccer.com or what have you. Or that Twitter is going to be blowing up.”


At the New York Times, Yael Averbuch, who plays in Sweden, has an outsider’s look at the NWSL’s first season.

USA Today talks to former USWNT goalie and World Cup winner Briana Scurry, who hasn’t played since suffering a concussion after taking a blow to the head while in goal for the Washington Freedom against the Philadelphia Independence back in 2010.


What’s this, Mexico is “seriously inquiring” about securing the services of Luis Gil? Hands off, amigos!


The AP reports, “Europe’s 54 soccer nations are prepared to support moving the 2022 Qatar World Cup from the summer heat to playing in January.”

However, a report at ESPN on European support for a scheduling switch says, “UEFA members are keen not to be tied to a definitive date at this early stage.”

Asked by Die Zeit if political considerations influenced the decision to award Qatar hosting rights for the 2022 World Cup, Sepp Blatter said, “Yes, there was definitely direct political influence. European leaders recommended to its voting members to opt for Qatar, because of major economic interests in the country.”

In view of scandals on field and off, Laurent Dubois writes at SI that it is the “evanescent moments” that “crystallize hope and community” that fuel our interest in the World Cup.

What are soccer fans to do in the face of all that this sport we love throws at us? How should we deal with the corruption, the absurdity of putting so much stock into a game, the mad unfairness of so many matches, the fact that a true fan is almost sure at some point to have their heart ripped out?

The solution I’ve found, for now, is a double one. As soccer fans, we should also be citizens, critics of the way that teams and tournaments and national federations and the global behemoth that is FIFA are run. We should remember that, in the end, the game exists for us and because of us, and that we have the right to demand that it be carried out with ethics and for the greater good, as the World Cup founder Jules Rimet believed it could and should be.

Preach on, brother, preach on.

Fourteen members of a suspected international match-fixing ring have been arrested in Singapore. More on the arrests from the AP.

The prosecutor investigating fixed games in Italy would like to talk to the suspected ringleader.

The AP reports, “English soccer champion Manchester United PLC projected Wednesday that it will generate more than $660 million this season after breaking its revenue record while winning a 20th league title.”


  1. I think we’re playing well, and if we continue to play well,

    *grabs a pitchfork*

    • Maybe this is some kind of acknowledgment that they are playing poorly considering how often Hackworth will state the opposite of what is true about the team

    • Well as far as he is concerned we may be.
      By the teams logic if that goal goes in we have a tie. We covert some of our chances from the week before we have a result. So by a certain logic we are “playing well” Maybe our luck in the early part of the season has skewed expectations, maybe the front office is in his ear telling him what to say, Maybe he thinks we are playing well considering the players we have, maybe he actually thinks they are playing well, I don’t know.
      Press conferences can be useful but I think people get too worked up over what is said there. They just mainly exist to give the entire sports industrial complex something to talk about in the midweek doldrums between games.

    • Normally I would just read this as coach speak, as I do feel the result on Saturday was unfair, but coming from Hackworth I think he believes it. He called out individual players last week – which surprised me – but didn’t make any changes, and I think that’s because he’s just deathly loyal to his “go-to guys” and doesn’t want to take any of them off the field.
      Or maybe he really does think the 11 players he starts gives them the best chance to win, which is something I’ve kept denying because no manager can be that naive. Right?

    • I think you can make the argument that they’ve been playing well, at least within their style of play. How often over the last 5 games or so have we said things like, “Jack needs to finish that,” or “Seba should’ve buried that shot,” or “Casey just missed his header”?
      They’ve had chances; they’ve had *good* chances. They just aren’t finishing, which is making their excellent defense (NE game not withstanding) over this stretch even more burdened, since they have to know one mistake is going to cost them the match.
      And before you slaughter me, I’m not particularly agreeing with Hackworth. I’m just saying I can see it from his POV, especially since he’s the type of coach who almost always prefers to keep public statements about his players positive.

      • and because he is a half-glass full type of guy. Unbelievable he is ‘happy’ with his midfield!

      • I don’t think he is happy with the midfield. I think he knows exactly what all of us are seeing. I think he just doesn’t trust his other mids to be able to do the job he wants (note: not the job we think they should be doing).
        He can’t be happy with his midfield. He’s too smart for that. He’s just one of those managers who isn’t going to publicly put down one of his players, and so he says things are fine and chances just aren’t going in.

      • I agree they have been playing well, just not good enough. I didn’t think this team was a playoff team back in March, but for most of the season they’ve been in the hunt, regardless of the reasons. But whether he likes what he sees or not it’s not good enough right now, and something needs to change, whether it’s personnel, the lineup, the tactics or something. Casey hasn’t scored since his D.C. brace, and the midfield is providing no service, so it’s not all Jack’s fault. It’s time to sit someone else to try something new.

  2. Hackworth is a whiner.

  3. Here’s the thing, we’ve had like what, 7, 9 matches up a man? That’s ridiculous. Remember all those times after the other team got a red that Hack came out and said “man, they sure shit the bed with that card on the opposition”? You don’t? Me neither. But we’ve had what, two goals called back? The Casey one a few weeks ago and this, and Im not positive about this one. We’ve had nothing but help from the refs this season, to still go on about it is cowardly.
    Sack up and get a result. You were at home. Act like it. Attack.

    • 5 defenders and a CDM on the field at home in a must win game. Funny there was a lack of combination play in the attacking half.

      • I’m not even responding the “plenty of chances” crap. They had one shot on goal. I guess he’s defining a chance as everytime they crossed midfield.

      • Last game, they had two that I can remember. One was Casey’s header that went just over the bar, the other was when Jack made that nifty move to his left to shake his defender than yanked his shot wide to the left.
        There’s two good chances gone awry right off the top of my head.
        Again, I don’t buy what Hackworth is selling here. But I can see how he could make that argument and keep a straight face.

      • 5 defenders and 2 CDMs. Keon doesn’t get to be called a CAM until he actually shoots the ball or sets up a run-of-play goal. Until then he’s “CAM in name only”…. HOLY CRAP, THAT’S IT! FROM NOW ON, I AM REFERRING TO KEON AS “EL CAM-INO”! I NEED TO GO TRADEMARK THIS NOW!

      • I agree – Keon isn’t meant to be a CAM; that’s just what we all want his position to be.

      • John – you’d be right if in recent PCs Hackworth didnt say things like “Daniel is our attacking presence” or variations of that.

      • I’m always amazed* when people choose to believe something a coach says in a weekly press conference, especially when the coach has demonstrated he isn’t going to give anything meaningful. Hackworth is just a more polite version of Andy Reid – “I’ve got to do a better job blah blah blah Zzzzzzz….”
        * This is coming across as a bit pretentious as a proofread before posting. It’s not meant to be; it’s just the early morning lack of caffeine is preventing me from re-wording it.

  4. I wish we didn’t have a week off because now this will be one more week of blaming the refs for our failure. The lip service is at an all time high just to save face. Hack is like a wounded animal backed into a corner, but guess what, you’ll see the same line up next game because of all the chances they created against Houston.

  5. We need somebody to step down after the season. That somebody should Hackworth followed by Sakiewicz.

    • Actually I’d prefer they both “step down.”

      • *This* I can get behind. Though I’m not sure it’ll make much difference, if the problem really is cheap ownership.
        I just simply don’t trust Nick Sakiewcz. I can’t really say why; just one of those gut feelings.
        I actually like Hackworth. I think he’s a good guy. I think he did a decent job serving as a transition from Nowak. He did some good things: getting younger players their confidnce back, getting Freddy Adu off the books a year early, getting Le Toux back and then getting him to buy into the winger, play-maker role. All that said, he was clearly a transition coach, and I think it’s now time to move on.

      • I am not sure it is cheap ownership that is the problem. We could have gotten depth and quality without hiring a DP. I am even under the (maybe mistaken) impression that we have the personnel on the roster right now to be more successful than we have been.

  6. Dear John Hackworth,
    With the exception of one player who has gone subzero cold, none of the guys you keep putting on the field have been willing to take chances all year long. So what makes you think after 8 months they will start now? And what is this about late on stuff? It is later on, you only have 5 games left, look at your calendar!

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