Press Conference

Transcript and video of John Hackworth’s weekly press conference

Editor’s note: Questions have been paraphrased.

On the challenge of going to California for a week

We take this as an opportunity. You got two games on the West Coast. When you’re planning these things out, it’s much easier to have two flights rather than four. You would lose two days of travel if you came back and forth. So, it makes sense to stay out there during this time, especially playing on a Sunday, and then the following Saturday. I think it is good that our guys are going to be together full-time. That’s important because I think when you’re in these moments where things are not going your way, you got to stick together and you got to fight through it, so we’ll try to do that in every way possible. But we still are playing the LA Galaxy on Sunday, which is a huge challenge and a game that we feel like we need to get a result in.

On the status of Brian Carroll and Michael Lahoud for the upcoming game

I think both those guys are good, Brian is a hundred percent right now; training, he looked good yesterday and today, so he’s good to go. Michael just got back from his international duty and played 90, so it’s good he got a full game in there and he should be available as well.

If you find out before the June 2 deadline that Maurice doesn’t make the 23-player US roster for the World Cup, any chance he’ll be available for the Chivas USA game on May 31?

That’s a good question. I would say that, knowing how Jurgen and his staff have done these things in the past, they’re going to use all the time allotted to them that they can. So, I would say that, most likely, we wouldn’t have Mo available for the Chivas game.

Points are needed right now. What does the team need to do to go out there and get three points?

I think we have to look at the positives of our Kansas City game. We also have to look at all the positives in the games earlier in the year where we played really good soccer, and we had mistakes here and there. We continue to think that we are a good soccer team. The results are not showing that right now so we have to go out there and make sure that we do everything possible. Maybe adjust some things tactically to give ourselves a better chance to be successful in those games.

Saturday for me was — it’s not a really good indication, because I think that game could have been much different. You have to give New England full credit, and we did not play well in some moments, but I think that game could have been different in a lot of ways. So, we just got to go back to it, believe in ourselves, and see if we can get results. Obviously, having a two-game road swing on the West Coast — it’s not an ideal time to say that you have to get results, but, that’s in fact where we are. We have to do that.

Have the problems been tactical, mental, some combination?

From my perspective, I think our problem over the course of this season so far has been not one of a tactical nature, more of execution. Sometimes that’s tactical, sometimes that’s technical. I think as a team, our mentality has wavered at times, and I think that it hasn’t been a problem for games or preparation, but in moments in games, we have obviously let in some chances that I feel like if we were stronger, if there was better communication, if we were cutting out plays in advance of getting in dangerous areas, is where we could be a much better team than we are right now record-wise.

For the LA game, how do you factor in the fact that they have a game on Wednesday night, and are also missing key players because of national team call-ups?

I still think you got an LA team that has some extremely talented players. Obviously, missing Landon and Omar is big for them. They’re similar to us in that they’ve had a lot of players in their backline right now due to injuries and call-ups, so that’s an interesting situation. Them playing tonight gives us another opportunity to look at them. The one advantage that they have over what we went through last week is that they have an extra day. And I think that’s a big advantage, from a Wednesday to a Sunday, versus a Wednesday to a Saturday game.

On the team’s past success on the West Coast against LA and Chivas USA

Yeah, we’re going to believe that we can go out there and get that result. We’ve had experiences out there — the facility as a whole, it’s a big field, sets up well for the way we play, it gives us the time and space to really open up the field the way that we want to. I think that’s a factor, but it’s a little different because both LA and Chivas are different teams from when we played previously out there, and so are we.

On the mood in the locker room

It’s not one of happiness, I’ll tell you that. But I do think that overall the players still have a belief in themselves and a belief in each other. The teams I’ve been around where you get into this kind of situation with the results, it’s easy to start pointing fingers, to start having little incidents arise in training, and things like that. We haven’t seen that. We still have a group of guys working hard, that are doing the same things that we’ve been doing since Day 1, and that’s all real positive. I think we’re as a team, we want to put Saturday behind us and we’re looking forward to this Sunday to hopefully rectify that situation.

On fitting Brian Carroll back into the lineup after missing two games

Well, to have your captain back is obviously very important. We were a little low in terms of our depth on Saturday, so now it gives us options. But you also have Michael Lahoud coming back, you have Fabinho coming back, essentially the only guy you’re missing is Maurice, So, I think all of those things factor in to us being an overall stronger lineup and team for Sunday’s game. We’re obviously missing Chaco, I should say that, so we’re missing two guys.

On the challenge of replace Cristian Maidana

Sure, but I think we have several guys that are now competing the last couple of days in training for that spot — Leo, Pfeffer, Sebastien, those guys are all viable options right there. I would even throw Corben Bone into that mix.

On the frustration in the locker room

It’s very natural. You get frustrated when you look back on it and you’re like, you really question how you’re in the position that you’re in because you think that, “Hey, we should’ve won that game. We should’ve gotten three points here. We should’ve gotten a draw in that game. That was a point.” And you start to look at all the points you let slip away, and it really becomes frustrating, especially when you think you’re a team that is playing at a high level, which we do. In particular, you play a good game Wednesday, and then have the kind of performance we had on Saturday , and it’s a little bit baffling. So, natural for there to be that frustration, even that anger. And as a coach, I’m fine with that. I would be a little upset if I didn’t see that coming out of the players. They know it. They’re absolutely understanding of the situation and they’re taking responsibility for it. Those are all positive signs. What we have to do is just concentrate one game at a time. It’s a big ask to go out to LA and say you have to win a game, but that’s what our focus is right now.

Are you seeing signs of panic within the team?

No, I wouldn’t say panic at all. Again, I’ll just give you my insight watching training and games, and being around the group. Panic usually starts when you don’t believe that you have guys on the field that are good enough. You start to really have these little in-team battles, you see that on the practice field a lot. We don’t have that right now. I’ve been saying that for several weeks. I think it’s easy for people on the outside to assume that some of those really negative aspects of a team are seeping in. Our guys deserve a lot of credit for the fact that that’s not happening with us right now.

On Amobi Okugo’s recent play in the midfield and where best to play him now

There’s absolutely some questions that have to be answered in that regard. Credit to Amobi for having the performances he had, except that we continue to struggle in our backline, so that’s where we have to find some stability, and we have to improve. You come off two games where you score a total of five goals, and with the kind of defense that we think we’re capable of playing, you would expect us to get a result in at least both those games. So, it does pose a real question for us. But at the same time, I think that’s a good sign that Amobi’s played well in both those games, and it gives you some options.

On the possibility of pairing Okugo and Sheanon Williams at center back

We did it in preseason. In fact, for a long time — we didn’t have Austin Berry, we hadn’t acquired him, we hadn’t spent a lot of time with Aaron Wheeler there, we had young guys like Richie Marquez and Ethan White who’d just joined our team — and so, Sheanon and Amobi were playing there together, and they have in the past too. So, that’s a definite possibility.

Players have been pretty public in their support of you. Are they putting more pressure on themselves by doing so and opening themselves to criticism from the fans because of that?

It’s an excellent question, I addressed it a week ago at this time before we went to Kansas City. There is real pressure there. But what I’ve tried to say is that I don’t want the players to even think about me. We do this together. Very rarely, within the culture of our locker room, do we use the word “I”. We use “we” a lot. And I want us to think, whether it’s the players, the staff, medical staff, that we’re in this together and that we need to work for the club, for the much bigger picture than an individual, one way or the other. So, trying to take that pressure off of them, I feel secure in my experiences as a coach that I’m going to be alright, one way or the other. I certainly want to be in this position, and I can’t explain to you how motivated I am to improve our current status of results. I think that’s reflected in a group of guys who believe in each other , they believe in the coaching staff — those are all good things. Now we just have to get results to back it up.

On Ethan White and his place on the depth chart

I think Ethan’s a guy that, so far, has clearly been beneath both Wheeler, and Austin, and Amobi. But he has played well in training. I’ve said that. He went on loan to Harrisburg, didn’t have a great performance — it was probably a tough game for him to play in there. But he’s going to be a guy that we’ll probably need to look at. So, he is a guy that we continue to look at in training and battling for that position right now. It’s not like we are satisfied with that position right now, so it opens up an opportunity for Ethan, for sure.

With the team looking for reinforcements, is there salary space or will player(s) now on the roster have to be given up?

It’s a very valid question and I think the topic you’re bringing up is really important. We need to look outside of our own locker room right now and see if we can bring in a player, and we are. I think that’s important. We’ve said that publicly that we’re out there shopping. And any time you do that, there are guys within your locker room that, in the nature of this business, you’re going to have to expect that there will be a trade made, or that somebody might be released. Those are the hard, hard realities of this business. But more important, and I alluded to this earlier, is that our team and our organization, this club, is not accepting of where we are right now. We need to take action that puts us in a better place to be successful, both in the near future and in the long term. If we can find those kind of guys, and we can make those acquisitions, we’re going to try to do that.


  1. “I would even throw Corben Bone into that mix.”

    Bone??? Are you kidding me? I thought he was just stubborn, now I know he is just crazy.

  2. Man that seat he’s sitting on is HOT!

  3. And the man is still employed.

  4. If they haven’t fired him yet he is staying until the end of the season. Its almost half done anyway.

  5. Atomic spartan says:

    Let’s see… We have a destabilized back line. According to Hack, Williams and Okugo have logged lots of time together in the central defense. We face the Revs on a roll and we opt for experimentation instead of known quantities. Then when things aren’t working, Hop is subbed for a D-back and the flood gates are opened. Looks like Nowak 2.0

    • I’ve been getting that Nowak feeling, too.

    • He was tied to Nowak for so long, I’m not sure why Sak thought he would be different…it’s like the Flyers down there.

    • hobosocks says:

      To be fair, we really couldn’t start Williams and Okugo in central defense against the Revs. I have a feeling Hack would have done so were it an option. With Fabinho suspended, we wouldn’t have had an outside back. Really, Hack’s only choice was Wheeler/Berry or to replace one of them with White. And it seems pretty clear at this point that White is not inspiring confidence in anyone in training (or Harrisburg).

      • John Ling says:

        Or experiment with a midfielder playing fullback, like he tried with Le Toux last year. And then everybody is crying, “How could he play Le Toux at RB and leave Williams at CB?” Fabinho’s suspension really hurt the team’s choices on defense.

      • just trying to be fair here, I think Le Toux had prior experience playing at fullback with Seattle

      • John Ling says:

        Yes, that’s correct.
        Can you imagine the fun we’d be having, though, if Hackworth had played Williams at CB and Le Toux at FB, and the score was the same? Man, that would’ve been good times. 😉

      • Old soccer coach says:

        I thought Le Toux’s defensive experience was in France? Lahoud’s absence further reduced the options . He has played outside back for the Union before, probably on a par with Fabinho altho’ it was at least two seasons ago.

      • kingkowboys says:

        +1 No choice in that back line as you said.

      • to be fair he could have started one at cb

  6. “From my perspective, I think our problem over the course of this season so far has been not one of a tactical nature, more of execution.”

    I call that Throwing your Players Under the Bus…aka: It’s not my fault.
    What an arrogant fool!

    • Atomic spartan says:

      Foolish, certainly. Arrogant? Well, Andy Reid kinda cornered the market on that till Nowak came to town. But you make an interesting point. Citing poor execution is a kind of self-absolution for failed personnel selections, formation schemes and strategies. Good managers put round pegs in round holes. Ours seems to Hack at the pegs and complains that they aren’t doing a very good job of fitting their holes.

    • No hint in that answer of the scarcity of GOALS or the reasons we can’t SCORE that might have to do with how so many new faces don’t get the chance to find a rhythm when each week’s XI is so delightfully different.

      • Atomic spartan says:

        It’s a pendulum swing – last year, we all complained about the monotonous ineffectiveness of seeing Carrol, Daniels and Danny game in and game out, regardless of result. So now we get to watch endless variability in search of a groove. No happy medium known here.

      • I believe the complaints last year were more about talent than consistency. If Hackworth would have consistently fielded the best talent there would not have been as much complaints.

  7. kingkowboys says:

    The Corben Bone statement is my biggest issue with this press conference. Corben Bone should be grovelling at the coaching staffs feet to even smell a spot on the 18 after his red card. He can’t be in the mix a week later to take a spot away from Leo, Pfeffer, or Seba. Hold him accountable for his actions.
    Another thought about Hack’s statement of everything is “we”. That is a good base mentality but speaking from a management position, if individuals do not perform you eventually need to single them out as a problem. If he believes in the system and the system is robust (in his eyes) then it comes down to performance (execution). That is where the responsibility falls on the individual. So like I previously said Bone is culpable as is Wheeler and Berry.

    • present ‘we’ in the press conference and ‘you’ in the managers office.

      • kingkowboys says:

        I hope this is the method. I have my doubts that Hack is the authority though.

    • John Ling says:

      On your first point: I agree completely. Frankly, in my opinion Corben Bone shouldn’t smell the 18 again the rest of the year. Two appearances, two cards that hurt his team.
      On your second point: A manager (any manager, not just sports) taking a “we” mentality has a lot of benefits, especially if those under the manager buy into it. However, in such a management scenario, the manager doesn’t need to single out publicly when a team member does something to hurt the “we.” The offender, of course, needs to know. The team needs to know. Anybody else? None of their business, at least under this method.
      When things go “bad” in this system is when the manager either gets the group behind him/her or when he/she loses the group. If the manager does the “we” thing, then the proverbial buck stops on the manager’s desk. If something goes wrong, it’s the manager’s fault. That means, for example, the manager shields the underling from the manager’s boss and takes the fall.
      So spinning the management theory back to the Union, I would be absolutely shocked if Hackworth hasn’t addressed Bone directly *and* addressed the issue in team meetings. And so that’s why publicly he says Bone is in the mix – because everything about Bone being a screw-up is internal to the “we.” The actual 18 chosen on Sunday night will be a better indicator than the words in the press conference.
      (And that said, the “it’s execution” statement is also interesting, since it sort of goes against the grain a bit. In the “we” system, the public answer is some version of Andy Reid’s, “I gotta do a better job” answer we heard for years. Andy Reid is actually the classic “we” manager. He screwed up his first year when he publicly made that one offensive lineman push the blocking sled in front of everybody; from that point on, though, Reid was the classic “us against them” manager, and his players loved him because he stuck to it. Time will tell what happens with Hackworth here.)

  8. Dan C (formerly of 103) says:

    This pretty much sums it up:

  9. There’s so many hypotheticals in this conference. He keeps talking about how they’re playing good soccer but not getting results, and “I think that game could have been different in a lot of ways.” Well, how? If you think it could have gone differently, why didn’t it? I’m still waiting for him to stop waltzing around questions and come straight out and admit that they are not very good right now. Not “well, we think we’re playing well, but…”

    • To be fair, what do you want him to say? “We suck so much,” lol? He’s the leader and has to try to feign positivity. It’s aggravating to all of us, but if he publicly gives up then it’s all over for sure.

    • John Ling says:

      I’m never sure why people get angry when coaches use coach-speak at a press conference. Sure, we’d all love to have him dump on Aaron Wheeler or Austin Berry or the ref or Andrew Wenger or whoever. But most coaches don’t, and there’s a reason.
      If you expect Hackworth to say, “We suck so much” during a press conference, you’re going to continue to be disappointed week after week, because he’s just not going to do that.

    • Totally agree. Non stop with how things could have gone.

  10. philpill says:

    YO, MO! We resized your “away” game jersey to fit that huge chip Coach Klinsmann put on your shoulder. Try it on! * Please* Love, John & Nick.

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