Daily news roundups

Hackworth backs Wheeler to start, on Montreal, NYRB win drops U to 7th, more news

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union

Press conference notes

Some highlights from John Hackworth’s weekly press conference. Much more was discussed so check out PSP’s transcript from the press conference.

  • On who starts next to Amobi Okugo: “Aaron [Wheeler] right now is still the first choice.”
  • The choice to stick with Wheeler is motivated by Saturday’s shutout and the desire for consistency.
  • Hackworth admitted the Union may have brought Berry back too soon from injury.
  • Hackworth said he wants the players to take more shots from distance. “When you take shots from distance it kind of pulls the defense out a little bit and so it opens up other opportunities.”
  • Hackworth admitted the team has relied too much on crosses to create scoring opportunities. “We need to have a little more variety, no question, we’ve depended a little too much on the cross.”
  • The team needs to better balance the switching of flanks between Cristian Maidana and Sebastien Le Toux.
  • Despite only having one win from eight games, Hackworth says the team is confident in what it is doing. “When you look at it, obviously we are not happy with where we are in the standings right now. We legitimately feel like we should have won five out of our eight games for sure — at a minimum…What I will say though is that within out team we’re very confident about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. My experience as a coach is that the more you continue to play that way, the chances will — it’ll turn, the tide will turn, and we will see the results start to come our way.”
  • Hackworth said that, given the large number of draws in the league early in the season, things can change very quickly. “[M]aybe you’re not going to meet some of your goals in terms of wins but you have to keep grinding it out, you have to believe in what you’re doing because it might not be the point total that you think gets you into a playoff position and the right to contend for a championship.”

At Union Tally, Matthew De George has a good analysis of Hackworth’s comments on Wheeler as starting centerback over Berry. More on the subject from Dave Zeitlin at MLSsoccer.com.

At Delco Times, Matthew De George says that “Hackworth may have history on his side” when it the Union coach says he’s not overly concerned about the team’s inability thus far to turn draws into wins.


Hackworth said of playing against Jack McInerney when the Union travels to Montreal this weekend, “It’s going to be interesting. I know personally, I’ll look forward to seeing him. There’s no ill will between us. In this in particular, our whole goal will be to deny not only Jack but Di Vaio and the rest of their attacking players the time and space that they need to do what they do best. He’s an opponent right now but I’m sure after the game that we’ll have a word and wish him well until we see him next time when he’s the enemy again.”

Hackworth said of Montreal, “They’ve been a good team, and us going up there, when we’ve played, we’ve had games where we’ve played well but we haven’t finished them. And therefore, we’ve walked out of that building on several occasions questioning ourselves of how we didn’t get the result there. Clearly, this weekend’s game is really important for us, and really important for Montreal. We think that we have to change that. We have to go up there and be very confident about getting a result, continue the way we have been playing but we have to do a better job executing in front of goal, for sure.”

At Delaware Online, Matthew Waters notes that the fortunes of the Union and Montreal have not changed since they swapped Jack McInerney and Andrew Wenger.

At US Soccer Players, Jason Davis reviews Montreal’s poor start. The Impact are currently winless after seven games in 2014, their last win coming at home on October 19, 2013 against — you guessed it — the Philadelphia Union.

Impact head coach Frank Klopas says of his team’s tough start, “I’m not a negative person. I’m very optimistic, and I can tell you that I’m just as enthusiastic now as on the first day, even though it’s like this. The season is long, and [in] the Eastern Conference right now, with one or two wins, everything changes.”

At the Montreal Impact website, an infographic on the history between the Impact and the Union.

By the way, Saturday’s game is Montreal’s first at Stade Saputo this season (its three previous home games were at Stade olympique). That means three of the Union’s first five road games in 2014 have been home openers (with Portland and Columbus being the first two), or a third of the nine games they’ve played overall.

At the Montreal Gazzette, a look at the Impact’s 4-0 thrashing last weekend from Kansas City.

More Union

Sheanon Williams says, “We want to win, it’s not just being competitive…we want to win games. When you don’t win games, it’s not ideal, ties are the most frustrating. It’s not like we are losing games or getting blown over you know. Maybe not [in last Saturday’s match against Houston], but for the most part we are outplaying teams and we have one win in eight games. We are getting deep into the season and we cannot keep saying that. We have to keep working.”

Zac MacMath says, “Honestly, I’d rather make less saves and get more points to help our club win. I think we feel like we’ve given up some points in the early part of the season here. Whatever it takes to get the three points, we’ll do it. We just have to stay focused and execute because we have a couple of tough matches coming up this week.”

At Fox Sports, Leander Schaerlaeckens has a good piece on Maurice Edu and his return to MLS with the Union.

At Brotherly Game, Andrew Stoltzfus has the good (Vincent Nogueira), the bad (lack of diversity in Union attack making defenders look good), and the ugly (recurring themes like lack of discipline in the midfield in tracking runners, not being able to capitalize on a man advantage, playing players out of position).

The Union drop three spots in ProSoccerTalk’s power rankings to No. 12. At SBI, they stay at No. 13: “Despite showing flashes of their potential, the Philadelphia Union still haven’t figured out a way to put it all together into complete, consistent 90 minute performances. The club lacks a real center forward with after trading Jack McInerney and the Aaron Wheeler/Amobi Okugo partnership in central defense is not working.”

Ray Gaddis has been named to SBI’s Team of the Week. Maurice Edu received an honorable mention.

At MLSsoccer.com, Dave Zeitlin reports on the passing of Eric Shertz. Sons of Ben president Kenny Hanson tells Zeitlin he’s been contacted by supporters groups from across the country —  “from Seattle to New York to Florida” — asking what they can do to help. Hanson adds, “I have spoken with the team and I can tell you everyone from [CEO] Nick Sakiewicz down has reached out to us. Many of these people knew who he was and interacted with him. The feeling in the Philadelphia Union front office is a bit somber as well. Everyone that met him thought he was a great guy, a great fan and a great father.”


Harrisburg City Islanders are on the road to face Orange County Blues (formerly Los Angeles Blues) tonight in search of both their first goal and win of the season (10:30 pm, NSCAA TV, YouTube). Previews from Harrisburg City Islanders, Orange County Blues, and Soccerly,  The City Islanders conclude this West Coast trip against Sacramento Republic on Saturday (10:30 pm, NSCAA TV, YouTube).

The USL W-20 League, the premier North American under-20 women’s league, announced a divisional realignment on Wednesday. In the North Atlantic Division are FC Philadelphia, Harrisburg City Islanders, Reading United, Keystone Athletic SC, and Ottawa Fury. The announcement notes, “W-20 is the result of a re-branding the premier North American under-20 women’s league, previously known as the Super-20 Women. W-20 aligns operationally with the W-League to benefit from the established infrastructure of the first and longest standing women’s league in North America, which emphasizes quality ownership, league standards and player development.”


Bradley Wright-Phillips scored a hat trick as New York destroyed Houston 4-0 on Wednesday night. With the result, the Union drop to seventh in the Eastern Conference as New York leaps into third.

DC’s Chris Pontius is out for four to six month after undergoing surgery on his left hamstring.

MLSAtlanta2017 has released a animation of how the new stadium in Atlanta will be converted from NFL capacity to MLS capacity (the magic starts around the 10 second mark).

When asked if Florida residents should feel duped by the Atlanta expansion announcement, Orange County Commissioner Ted Edwards responded, “Absolutely.” Jason Henry explains, “Edwards finds fault in this because MLS told the Orange County Board of County Commissioners that in order for Orlando to receive a new franchise, the city had to build a soccer specific stadium.”


At ESPN, Roger Bennett has a very interesting read on how the World Cup is expected to impact soccer in America. ESPN senior vice president for programming Scott Guglielmino believes, “The World Cup is going to take over our culture for a month, both from a media perspective and a social perspective. Whether you are getting out of a cab, standing in a subway or sitting down with your family for dinner, it will be the water cooler conversation dominating the United States.”

Jurgen Klinsmann says of Clint Dempsey’s recent good form, “That’s really a good sign, it’s great for us going into the final weeks before we hit the preparation for the World Cup knowing that he’s building his confidence more and more and more. And it’s due to his hard work that he put in for January, February, being at Fulham. It was not a successful time, but he built a foundation for the months afterward so he seems to now at the right time, at the right spot.”

At Goal.com, a review of the USMNT’s depth at right back.

Why hosting the USA vs. Turkey game at Red Bull Arena, the only sendoff game for the US in the northeast before it heads to Brazil, is a bad idea, and why it is a good idea.

If you haven’t been able to take advantage of the presales, US Soccer will be taking applications on May 1-2 for the remaining tickets to the game, which will be dispensed via a lottery.

At ASN, Brian Sciaretta has a very informative Q&A with Tab Ramos about the new US U-21 team, as well as the performance of the U-20s at the Dallas Cup. More on the U-21s from MLSsoccer.com.


Channeling his inner Bobby McFerrin, Sepp Blatter says of concerns about Brazil’s preparations for hosting the World Cup, “Be optimistic as we are optimistic.”

At the Guardian, Owen Gibson reports, “The final report of an independent governance committee set up to advise FIFA in the wake of a series of scandals has ‘strongly advised’ world football’s governing body to carry out seven outstanding recommendations for fundamental reform if it is to regain its credibility.”

Reuters reports, “No clubs will be kicked out of European competition next season for breaking financial fair play rules, UEFA president Michel Platini said in an interview on Thursday.”


  1. All aboard the fire hackworth train.

    Population: 1.

  2. The Realist Brian says:

    Fucking Hackworth. His arrogance with Wheeler is amazing. Can someone from the media (and I am not directing this at Eli or any of the PSPers) ask him about the amount of balls that Wheeler played out of bounds or lost possession with in the first half??? It is like he is trying to solve last years problem with giving up free kick headers and he has worked to his solution now.

    Wheeler isn’t good folks. Watch how he receives the ball and doesn’t open up to the field correctly. A pass coming from the left should be received by the right foot and vice versa so you can see the field and make the correct pass. This is a major coaching issue and he has done it in every game.

    He backs off his man instinctively because he is afraid to be dribbled by. The issue here is that give his man time to make a pass or move him to a better passing lane. Very apparent against both NYPC and Houston. That is a lack of confidence issue, and hopefully that is what Hack is talking about with assertiveness.
    Final nail in the coffin for the Wheeler experiment–he has cost us with his lack of man marking in the 18. Hackworth thinks this is the time to shoe-horn him in after he has made some incredible gaffes…WTF. Wheeler doesn’t read the game as a defender and it has cost us points.
    Final piece is, if we are going to rely on crosses, why wouldn’t you want a fresh Wheeler coming off the bench to be that Goonie type threat against a tired defense.
    By the way, Genius in charge is converting a truly talented attacking midfielder Pedro Riberio to a Center Back in Harrisburg. This is fucking dumb. About as entrenched American soccer mafia coaching thinking as you can get. Meanwhile, a true defender Richie Marquez has been playing well and he doesn’t get a look? Again, what the fuck, Hackworth. Call up your reserves. You don’t need to leave them down there. Bringing in a guy increases competition. But we are getting to the point where Hackworth’s structuralism get set in stone until we are out of the playoffs.

    Out with Hackworth!!!

    • but they had a 0-0 result last week- doesn’t that mean Aaron Wheeler is the fix? I agree, he is terrible at center back and anyone arguing for his improvement or understanding or decent play is delusional. You are dead right- the player doesn’t even receive a ball on the half turn most the time.
      This costs fractions of seconds and you don’t have fractions on seconds. Technique at the defender level needs to be spot on. Amobi Okugo, who is an excellent player has struggled with the transition and that has been while playing last year with pretty decent CB partners.
      You don’t think converting a borderline MLS striker to CB is wise? I mean why would we ever use a reserve team or affiliate to call up a player for spot duty for a few weeks. Insanity.
      ‘Entrenched American Soccer Mafia coaching.’ And I thought I felt strongly about the misdirection of US Soccer. I am sardonically hopping for a 0 point World Cup showing so maybe, just maybe, we can reevaluate something/everything.
      Aaron Wheeler at center back is an insult to my intelligence. “Somebody get me the tylenol.”

    • I agree with you. Hackworth is never challenged by the media on his lame Hacktics. He is let off the hook constantly. No one is saying to go for the jugular but there is enough specific evidence to challenge him with during these weekly pressers particularly when it comes to Wheeler for example.

  3. I’m generally in the “give Hack some time” camp, but I have to say the Berry/Wheeler situation has been very poorly managed.
    Berry is signed to be a first choice centerback, he gets hurt, Wheeler steps in, plays OK for a guy who has never played the position before, Hackworth then rushes Berry back from injury, he has one bad game and straight to the bench? In what universe does Wheeler get the second chance after a so-so performance but Berry doesn’t? Awful man-management. I can only hope that the frustration Berry is undoubtedly feeling right now is channeled into playing his absolute best and winning that spot back.

  4. I cringe every time I read a quote from Sepp Blatter. Guy does more damage than good for the football world. Time for a change!

  5. The Black Hand says:

    Congrats to Ray Gaddis for getting the credit, that he has long since earned!!!!

  6. Oh don’t fret, Montreal. You’ll get your first win of the season this weekend, handed to you on a silver freakin’ platter…

  7. Did anyone see the highlights from the Dynamo-NYRB game last night? The ease with which NY scored — and the really simple runs that were there — show how ineffective we are in the final third. THE LANES ARE THERE, but no one is making those runs.

    • james lockerbie says:

      I couldn’t say it better myself. I have said it before nog, miadana play thru balls into open space
      but no one makes the run into that area their feet are stuck to the pitch.

  8. I completely agree with the Orange County Commissioner. I know all sports leagues care about is money, but it’s frustrating to me as a fan of MLS to see Orlando City go about everything the right way – establish a fan base, have on-field success, make a bid, and get a soccer specific stadium deal completed – then turn around and see MLS grant Atlanta and NYCFC teams expansion deals. Neither team has an SSS deal in place, and NY can’t even find a place to build their’s, and according to Randy Levine may even look outside the city limits to find space if need be. If either or both of these teams fail, and Orlando City is a success (which I predict), MLS will lose more credibility than it already has.

    • My opinion for Atlanta, from a stadium perspective, changed after seeing that video yesterday. All along when they said they’d have a system for blocking off the upper-deck seats, I pictured something like NE, where they just put tarps over the seats – making the place cavernous and ugly. Plus, I was expecting football lines on the field, like what Seattle and NE have both had at times.
      Knowing the turf itself swaps out so neither sport sees the field markings for the other is big, but seeing the way the stadium converts has won me over completely to the idea that it’s *possible* to share a stadium and still be functionally a soccer location.
      NYCFC is its own farce…

  9. Note to Hack: Saying you believe and clapping your hands brings Tinkerbell back to life. It DOES NOT win soccer matches.

    • No, No, No.

      It’s clicking your heels together three times and repeating ‘Wheeler is a Center Back, Wenger will score 10 goals. Wheeler is a Center Back, Wenger will score 10 goals.’

      After reading the transcript of the press conference, I firmly believe we are not in Kansas anymore…

  10. james lockerbie says:

    I agree with everyone suggesting the local sports writers should be pressing hack. But I believe we are getting to him.

    After watching the presser, I get the impression he was trying to answer/account for all of our comments about his tactics and player choices. We’re constantly questioning B.C so he makes it a point to justify B.C in the line up.

    The way he tried to reason the Wheeler selection. Yes, it would be refreshing to watch Hack get a few hot questions thrown his way. however, I get a sense that over the past few weeks our combine voices are being herd possibly at a low mumble right now, but if the current trends continue it will be a loud roar!

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