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Injury updates, preventables & execution, other Union press conference notes, more news

Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

Philadelphia Union

In Tuesday’s weekly Philadelphia Union press conference — PSP has a full transcript from the press conference if you don’t have the time to watch the accompanying video — John Hackworth said Austin Berry and Sheanon Williams are both back to training but that the team is being cautious with their return to the starting lineup, particularly given the strong play of Aaron Wheeler and Ray Gaddis. Hackworth said of Berry’s recovery from a hamstring injury, “When you have a soft tissue injury like that, you want to make sure a player is a hundred percent healthy, otherwise they risk continually kind of going through this chronic pattern of tearing it again.”

Such caution extends to Conor Casey, who Hackworth said probably could have played “15 to 20 minutes” against Columbus but, given the conditions and tactical considerations, was not subbed into the game.

So, how does Hackworth think Casey will fit into the new look Union? He replied,

That’s still remains a little bit of a question. I have all the confidence in Conor, alright, but we are playing differently and we are much more mobile on both sides of the ball right now. That’s a good thing, we don’t want to get away from that. So, I think Conor’s got to be ready, a hundred percent ready. He’s getting back to that, for sure. I think if we go through another week of training the opportunity for Conor to play more minutes this Saturday has increased significantly. And then it’ll be a situation whether we think it’s the right thing.

Asked if he has a preference for Casey or Jack McInerney given how the midfield is now constructed, Hackworth replied,

It depends on match ups, to be honest with you. And it depends on who’s in for ‘em and whose able to tactically execute the way you want your game plan to work. I think, in the big picture, you’re gonna see Conor over the long haul, you’re gonna see him in a lot of games this year. And the reality is that might move McInerney out wide, or it might be that you’re putting Conor in straight up for Jack. I’m not unhappy with Jack so that — part of it when you have these tough player selections, you literally want to be making sure you’re not putting a guy on the bench that is playing well. You gotta balance that out.

When asked about the team’s meager goal totals, Hackworth said the issue is one of “execution.” Pointing to the number of chances the Union created against Columbus, he explained “I would be worried if we weren’t creating those chances,” adding, “I think they’re gonna start to fall.”

Asked if he’s concerned about the goals the Union has given up thus far, Hackworth said, “The one thing that’s concerning is that we gave up two goals in extra time. Obviously, the one late in the Portland game, and one late in the first half versus Columbus. And those are preventable. The good news is that, if you take that aside, we haven’t given up very many chances to our opponents this year. So, our collective defense has been good but we have to take care of those moments, and clearly we’ve been vulnerable on defensive re-starts.”

More on the press conference from Delco Times and Delaware Online.

Leo Fernandes explains what’s behind his auspicious start to the season. “In the offseason, I worked really hard. It made me work even harder when I saw all of the midfielders come in. … Coaches told me to come in as fit as I can. I tried to be the fittest person on the team. I tried to get stronger, so I hit the gym a lot. I tried to get better on the ball technically. I tried to improve everything basically.”

Fernandes is currently ranked fifth in the league in the Full Castrol Index, one spot above some guy named Henry, and came in at No. 8 in the Castrol Index Top 20 for last weekend’s games. Joining Fernandes in the top five Union players in the Full Castrol Index are Jack McInerney (24th in the league), Amobi Okugo (31st), Austin Berry (34th), and Cristian Maidana (50th).

Aaron Wheeler gets an honorable mention in ProSoccerTalk’s Team of the Week.

At ESPN, Jason Davis notes the impact of “field generals” like Michael Bradley, Kyle Beckerman, and Osvaldo Alonso and adds, “Maurice Edu is running his own effective campaign for the new-look Union.”

More power rankings! MLSsoccer.com says the Union “look the part of a playoff team, but need to start burying their looks,” and demotes them four spots to No. 8 after Saturday’s loss in Columbus. At ProSoccerTalk, the Union drop two spots to No. 5.

At the Union website, Kevin Kinkead has three standout topics from the loss to the Crew: the impact of Fernandes, the marking lapse and midfield turnover that Columbus punished with two goals, and the strong performance of Aaron Wheeler in his first start as a center back.

At Brotherly Game, Andrew Stoltzfus has the good (Leo Fernandes), the bad (the substitutions), and the ugly (the formation) from the Columbus game.

TopDrawerSoccer notes the winning weekend the Union Academy teams had against PA Classics last weekend.

Local

You will recall that we mentioned in Monday’s roundup that the Union’s Pedro Ribeiro and Richie Marquez played in Harrisburg City Islanders 3-1 win over Penn State on Saturday. On Tuesday, a Union spokesperson confirmed that Ribeiro and Marquez have joined the team on loan. Much like the loans of Leo Fernandes, Aaron Wheeler, and Don Anding last year, the loans of Ribeiro and Marquez are likely to involve much back-and-forth between Harrisburg and the Union.

You will recall that on Monday we also linked to a tweet from Union second round draft pick Robbie Derschang in which the midfielder said he had signed with Harrisburg City Islanders. On Tuesday, the club officially announced the signing.

The club also announced the signing of defender Raphael Cox, who comes to the club after two seasons with the NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies. Cox was previously with Atlanta Silverbacks and Real Salt Lake.

Ocean City Nor’easters are looking for host families for its players ahead of the upcoming PDL season.

MLS

The title of the Boston Magazine expose on the owners of New England Revolution pulls no punches: “The Krafts Are the Worst Owners in the League.”

How bad was the condition of the pitch in Toronto last Saturday, Eddie Johnson? “The field was crap. Absolute crap.” Could you be a little more clear, Mr. Johnson? “Being part of this league, and playing in some of the soccer-specific stadiums we play on, I can say that pitch was in very, very, very, very bad condition.” And that’s a lot of verys.

A Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment spokesperson acknowledged “BMO Field requires a number of improvements to stay at a Major League Soccer level.”

Vancouver’s Nigel Reo-Coker is questionable for Saturday’s match against Houston after an “off-field walking accident.” MLSsoccer.com reports, “the Englishman was looking elsewhere while walking when he tripped over a bike rack, cutting his face and hitting his head in the process.” Whitecaps FC assistant coach Martyn Pert said on Tuesday, “The medics will assess whether he has a concussion or not. But the initial thing was to rest today and make sure he does the best things for him.”

US

ASN considers how Julian Green fits in the USMNT depth chart.

Soccer Newsday has an entertaining interview with Mix Diskerud. Extra points for managing to use the word xesturgy. Points deducted for having to explain what the word means.

Tom Sermanni has named his 24-player roster ahead of the pair of USWNT friendlies against China on April 6 in Commerce City, Colo. (5 pm, ussoccer.com), and April 10 in San Diego (11 pm, NBCSN).

Elsewhere

The AP reports, “Lawmakers have approved a bill that World Cup organizers say is needed to allow the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre take part in hosting the tournament

Meanwhile, The Guardian reports that Brasilia’s new Estádio Nacional is on standby to be used as a World Cup stadium if any of the planned venues are not finished in time.

Reuters reports, “Qatar has promised to improve its labor laws, a member of the European parliament visiting the Gulf Arab state said, after persistent criticism from human rights group over its treatment of workers.”

Also from Reuters, “UEFA are expected to announce the introduction of a new Nations League for national teams from 2018 and tougher, Europe-wide sanctions against match fixing at their Congress on Thursday.” Mike Collett reports, “Although the exact details have yet to be revealed, the Nations League competition will largely replace friendly games and become, in effect, the third major international competition for European teams after the World Cup and European Championship.”

In the latest The Far Post installment, Eliot Rothwell looks at how “Football in Crimea may only be a footnote to the current crisis, but it also holds up a mirror to society.”

Bayern Munich has clinched the Bundesliga title with six weeks remaining in the season. So, I guess they’re pretty good.

Following Manchester United’s 3-0 defeat to Manchester City at Old Trafford on Tuesday — the first time in more than 40 years that United has been defeated three times in a row at home in league play by their cross-town rivals — fans “verbally abused” Sir Alex Ferguson for naming David Moyes as his successor.

21 Comments

  1. Hackworth is starting to worry me. I think the team has looked great to start the year and there is much to be excited and hopeful about. But Hackworth worries me.
    .
    I get the feeling in my gut that he hair doesn’t have what it takes to make changes. I doubt we’ll see any significant lineup/sub changes barring injuries. Using Leo first this week was a hopefully sign, but then you hear comments he makes and it worries me.
    .
    Should I be worried? Shouldn’t the lineup and subs be more adaptable to the games and situations? Hackworth worries me.

    • What changes would you like to make to the starting lineup? I think our week 2 lineup would be ideal, although if Williams is back, it’s a toss-up between Gaddis and Fabinho at LB.
      .
      As for in-game substitutions, I think it’s clear that Hackworth just goes with a pre-determined situational plan, no matter what the flow of the game actually dictates.

      • Yea I like the week 2 lineup as well. I would give Gaddis the nod over Fabinho though. I think Ray has played better defensively so far and Fabinho’s offensive impact hasn’t made up for some of his minor defensive lapses.

      • Sub patterns will definitely change when the team is at full health. Its not just Sheanon but Conor and Austin as well.

    • I don’t have a much of an issue with sub selection these last few games (with the exception of wanting to see Casey against the Crew if healthy enough), but find the flip-flopping of sides for Le Toux and Maidana to be incredibly frustrating. Why? Two guys capable of delivering good service from their stronger foot being put at a disadvantage, and all the more likely to drift centrally and lose width.

    • The Chopper says:

      If you base your feeling on last season, then certainly it is understandable that you would think Hackworth is afraid of change.

      But I am not worried. Remember that the bulk of his roster last year still consisted of players left over from the Nowak/Guttierez regime. And it is clear that Hackworth simply had no confidence in a number of those players and did not fit his plans. Thus he operated with a very short roster of players he felt comfortable using.

      The veterans he acquired, Cruz, Parke, LeToux, Casey, Fabhino all saw extensive minutes. Only Klebberson didn’t get time and Hackworth was forced at gunpoint to take him in order to rid the team of Freddy Adu. Youngsters that Hackworth acquired like Fernanzed and Wheeler got their break in minutes and will see even more this year.

      This year’s roster has a lot more John Hackworth players and I think he is going to use them. These are his guys and he will get them their minutes as it tactically makes sense.

      • “Remember that the bulk of his roster last year still consisted of players left over from the Nowak/Guttierez regime”

        Three weeks in and the first Nowak shot. Fantastic.

    • My worry is that once we have Shaenon, Casey and berry back. Do we ever see a game with Mac and Casey? Do we see Maidana come on as a sub after a bad game? do we see other subs used other than hop and Cruz? Does wheeler come on some games as a forward? Does Carroll ever come out? I just don’t see Hack doing it.

      • The Chopper says:

        A lot of people still thought Cruz would be starting and Keon would be playing. And many more said that a Hackworth team could not play attractive soccer.

        I have hope.

  2. The situation with Crimea and football teams as a mirror to society brings to mind the book “How Soccer Explains the World”. Great, great book and I highly recommend it for all soccer fans.

  3. If Sheanon is healthy Sheanon starts. To much of what the Union wants to accomplish offensively depends on him getting forward.

  4. Hopefully, Julian Green will get more playing time with the first team now that Bayern have clinched the league.
    .
    Poor Nigel Reo-Coker. I sincerely hope he was drunk at the time, otherwise, that’s seriously embarassing.

  5. http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/phillies/20140326_Q___A_with_Phillies_GM_Amaro.html
    .
    “OF THE four general managers of Philadelphia professional sports teams, Ruben Amaro Jr. is perhaps best qualified to speak of the job’s perks and perils.”
    .
    The only conclusion I can draw from this, is that Sam Donellon no longer considers the Sixers to be a professional sports team. That’s harsh, Sam. (I mean, that’s gotta be the case, right? How else can you get to four when counting up Phillies, Eagles, Flyers, Union, and Sixers?)

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      The disrespect from one of the best sports cities in this country is disgusting. And I normally like Sam Donnellon. And no, the Sixers are no longer a professional sports team.

    • The 76ers have maybe 3 legit NBA players on their roster now? They’re a D-League team.

      Five years in, with a competitive Union team, in a league and sport that’s grown rapidly in popularity (at least at the gate), it’s disappointing to be overlooked like that.

      • They have 3 definite if you count the injured Nerlens Noel (Michael Carter-Williams and Thad Young being the others). You could probably make a case for Tony Wrotten and James Anderson both being legit bench players, so that’s 5. The rest? Yeah, D-League or worse. Of course, that was the plan going into the season – blow it up and rebuild from scratch. Now they’re relying on ping-pong balls and making the right choices in the draft…

    • i feel more embarrassed for the guy that wrote it than put off by it. at this point when a professional sports writer omits a soccer team he either looks petty or ignorant

    • You have the wrong emphasis from the statement. It isn’t that there are 4 professional sports teams, but there are only 4 GENERAL MANAGERS of Philly sports teams.

      http://www.philadelphiaunion.com/club/technical-staff

      That title is not present in the Union FO.

  6. OneManWolfpack says:

    Through three games, Hack hasn’t impressed with his in-game management, but I understand injuries have limited him a bit. I’m not willing to bury him yet but on a 1-10, I’m about a 5 on my level of concern.
    .
    “An off the field walking accident” will be my new way to describe when I fall down. Hilarious.
    .
    I still want to see Casey come on for Mac and what it brings to the team, now that we have a midfield. But if it takes another week, cause of injury that’s fine.
    .
    Really excited to see Williams and Gaddis out there this weekend, assuming Williams is healthy.
    .
    I just think this team is still getting it together and getting healthy. Patience is going to be important… at least for a few more weeks.

  7. If Eddie Johnson thinks BMO Field in Toronto is bad now, wait until the Argonauts are playing there too.

  8. I think the most worrying comment is all the “Wheeler played great” stuff. Did he complete a pass? Besides panicky clearances upfield that might have hit a Union player. He ran over a couple of smallish foreigners, I guess that’s good defense. Or are we all grading on the “he wasn’t a complete disaster so he’s amazing” scale?

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