Press Conference

Transcript and video of John Hackworth’s weekly press conference

Editor’s note: Questions have been paraphrased.

On the importance of Saturday’s game against Vancouver, the last game before the World Cup break

It’s exactly that, this is a really important game, coming back home, coming off of a good result on the road. But we know we have to put them together. I think Vancouver is one of the best teams in the league right now, so, I think it’s a big game for us, for sure. It’s a really important game for us.

On the importance of playing well at home

We need to use that to our advantage. Especially the last couple of games at home, have not been the kind of performance that’s acceptable to this club, and we have to make sure that we try to make this stadium with the support, with the fans, with the passion that’s in this building, we need to make sure we play to a level that allows us to be successful.

Is playing at home something that is talked about in training?

It’s something that we talk about in training. Obviously, the guys all know the importance of it. We felt like we started the year off and played well here, didn’t get a couple of results that didn’t go our way, and then had a couple of very tough results here. All we can do now is focus on Saturday and make sure that our guys understand how important this game is, and what it means to play at home in front of our home fans.

Do you sense any nerves?

Not really. I think there’s some circumstances that were a little extenuating in the last time we were here — coming back off of a road victory, very short recovery, those are all tough situations. But, I don’t think our players think about that too much. I think we’re happy to be here, this is our home, this is where we’re based out of every single day, it’s where we all feel the most comfortable. We just have to establish that — reestablish it, if you will.

What do you take out of the Chivas USA win?

There were a number of things that were good in that game. The best thing was that we had a really tough result the week before, and probably one of the tougher weeks leading up to that Chivas game in terms of we had to ask ourselves a lot of very tough questions, and there were a lot of challenges thrown down because it was a must-win situation for all of us. And, Chivas is a team that is having similar struggles to us this year, and we just felt like, even being on the road, it was really important that we go out there and put a complete performance together, and I think we got that.

But, that’s just one. So, we’re trying to put that behind us and focus on Vancouver, and what that game means to this club because we feel like if we string together two victories and two performances that we’ll put ourselves back in a place where we all want to be.

On the team scoring multiple goals after struggling to score in the beginning of the season

Any time in this game that you look at just those goals, you have to balance that with the results. Clearly, in the last three games, we haven’t gotten the results we wanted, even though the goals were there. So, we have to fix that, and that was a point of emphasis going into last week: “Look, we think we can score goals” — here’s a little different tactic for how we’re going to do it — yet we have to make sure that we prevent and limit our opponent’s chances. That was our emphasis. When we do those things, I think we’re a good team.

On competition for starting spots

We have great competition within our team right now for playing time. Guys that played last weekend and did well, it’s a different opponent this weekend and presents different challenges for us. But the competition in training is — has been — very healthy, and that’s important for our whole group to make sure that we push each other in the right ways.

Open Cup aside, after Friday it’s a long time before the next game. Do you emphasize that to the players?

No. I mean, we know where we are right know, we understand the situation, and we just want to focus on this one game. It’s important to us, we all know that. And then we have a little break, and then we have the Open Cup matches and a build up. We’ve built this block, if you will, of time into our periodization plan for the whole year, so the players, the staff, we all know that it was coming. But, again, don’t want to get away from the fact Saturday is huge for us.

Conor Casey and Fred had a big game against Chivas. Will they continue to see the same kind of minutes?

It’s important that you take those factors into consideration, but Conor, in particular, was good. I don’t want to discount Fred, he was really good too, but we changed up certain things about our tactics with Conor in the game, and it worked. So, anytime you play a game against an opponent and those things you are able to execute them, it’s important, so, happy for both of those guys. I thought Fred brought some energy, some creativity into our midfield, we were able to (audio cuts out for 18 seconds)

On the search for reinforcements

It’s continually being assessed, absolutely. But it has to — and I keep saying this — it has to be the right player or players (audio cuts out for 21 seconds)

On Brian Carroll

I still think Brian, you know, he’s our captain, he is our leader in terms of the way he does everything, what he has meant to this club over the last several years, all of those things are very important. And, within our team, it doesn’t matter whether Brian is in the starting XI, whether he’s in the 18, or whether he’s not; he still has that role to play for us. I can’t tell you where that will be in the future, but Brian understands the competition that I referred to earlier in training and what that means to the guys that represent us on Saturday in the first XI. So, I think he’s very comfortable either way and understands the value of his role.

On the team’s injury status heading into the break

We’re healthy, so that’s good. Sebastien is back and in training, which is obviously good to have. But it does pose a question of whether you want to put a guy who’s coming off from injury into one game when you know you have a little block of time where, ideally and in our plan, this is a time for all of our players to regenerate and recover from a tough first part of this season.

On the challenges Vancouver presents

I see a team that is — they’re firing on all cylinders right now and, in particular, they have Morales [who’s] been a really good playmaker for them, and they have a lot of speed in many different positions. So, you take a guy that provides that service, that is able to provide the penetrating pass and pull the strings in the midfield with a very fast, athletic group of players that work hard in front of him, and it’s going to be a challenge. In the games that we’ve seen from them so far previously, they have been a handful. So, big challenge for our backline this Saturday, we’ll have to do a good job trying to contain and deny them as much as possible.

On Aaron Wheeler not traveling with the team for the West Coast games. Are his days as a forward closed?

No, I wouldn’t say that they’re closed. I would say that we made a decision to — and it was tough, but I keep referring to the fact that our team has this competition within training, and it’s tough to pick not only the XI, but the 18 and, in that case, who was going on that trip for those two games and Aaron, unfortunately, wasn’t a player we selected. He’s been playing more as a forward in training, so we definitely think that he has an opportunity there. Not to say that we won’t ever use him in the back again, but I think we’ve made that conscious decision going into the LA Galaxy game.

On Ethan White and whether he is now above Wheeler on the center back depth chart

I would say that Ethan has done really well and established himself on our depth chart right now. He’s done well and so he’s gotten those opportunities the last couple of games. I don’t think it’s as easy as trying to say, “Hey, this is the No. 3 or No. 4.” It’s a fluid list right now because we honestly haven’t had the consistent play out of our center backs that you would want or expect at this point in the year. We tried a lot of guys back there and it’s been a struggle. And, any time you have that, you’ve got to ask questions of guys and you’ve got to challenge them in the right ways. That makes for some very tough decisions and you, ultimately, have to make some changes when you look at that.

On Brian Carroll’s confidence after dealing with injuries

I think Brian’s in a good place. He is — I’ve said this many, many times — but I don’t think there’s a more better pro in all ways. He prepares well, he’s mentally (audio cuts out for 17 seconds) But, we’re happy with Brian and I think he’s very confident in himself and where he’s at.

On what the team will be doing during the World Cup break

Well, one, we need to shut our players down and give them a small block of time where they just literally can hopefully recover from what we’ve done so far. As a staff, because of the summer transfer window being open, our main responsibility is going to be trying to scout players, look in every possible situation to see if there’s a player that we can bring in, that we can add, while preparing for this next phase of our season, which is very important. Now you have the Open Cup, which clearly is going to be an important competition for us.

Is the conversion of Aaron Wheeler to center back now on hold? How much responsibility does the coaching staff bear for the conversion not working out as hoped?

It’s a hundred percent our responsibility. I think any time you’re looking for solutions you’re going to try things. And, look, Aaron is — I don’t think this is fair to Aaron to have this conversation around whether he is going to be in at center back or forward. He is a good pro. He’s played some really valuable minutes for this club this year and has done well. Our decisions as a technical staff I think we should be held accountable a hundred percent for those, because it’s our decisions. But, when you try different guys in different positions, I think that’s the risk you run. In this case, clearly we decided that was a direction we were not going to forward in.

Have you had conversations with Harrisburg City Islanders head coach Bill Becher on whether players on loan to Harrisburg City Islanders will be able to play against the Union when the teams meet in the US Open Cup fourth round on June 17?

Yeah. First off, Bill and I communicate weekly, and sometimes even daily. They’re a really important part of our developmental process with our young players, so we have been in communication (audio cuts out for 18 seconds) When you’re talking about competing against each other, I’m not sure it makes the most sense to have those players who are your players compete against you. That’s kind of the way it is worldwide, you know, when you loan a player out to another club, usually the stipulation is that that player doesn’t play against you in any kind of competition.

Union players who have played for Harrisburg in the Open Cup wouldn’t be able to play for the Union in the tournament?

That’s correct. Once a player gets cup tied they’re cup tied. So, that is a definite factor in this decision. We have a big roster, so we have to manage that and make some tough decisions one way or another, and, again, Bill and I communicate very regularly and we’re going to have those discussions and, ultimately, come to a decision that we think makes sense for the both of us.


  1. Old Soccer Coach says:

    I am glad they are cup tied. It is not fair to what the minor league farm team is trying to do to remove important pieces from their game board. To see the loanees play is one of the reasons to go to the game, to see how they do against big league competition. I believe I am correct that Richie Marquez has played every minute at center back for HCI. Is it fair to them to remove him? McGlaughlin has been playing very well recently. Hernandez is recovering from injury; Ribeiro was not in their stadium last Saturday against Richmond. When they Iron Pigs play the Phillies they get to use everybody.

    • They are cup tied to the farm team affiliate, but the 2nd to last question seems to make it pretty clear that they won’t play vs the U. So, they are removing those loaned players from the Harrisburg game roster. I’m with you though- let them play.

  2. OneManWolfpack says:

    This sounds a lot like a manager who has read PSP lately… Haha! Seriously though, Hack seems like he is starting reverse course a little and see the AMAZINGLY BAD error of his ways. What that means… I have no idea, but just admitting that the whole “Wheeler at CB” thing is over… is a massive step forward.

  3. Shout out to JT and Kevin for nailing Hackworth with tough questions. Well done!

  4. philpill says:

    Too much about Goats & too little of Galaxy. How do you leave your C as a healthy scratch? And if BC starts, Edu is underused & the offensive build up stalls. I see no reassuring words about how to win Saturday. If Hackworth is coaching for his job, he doesn’t sound like he thinks he is. Prove me wrong, Coach.

    • Well, I dont belong anywhere near the 18 on ability any more, so, DUH. I’m the fifth best guy on the roster at my position. Should I start because Coach made a mistake and gave me the C?

  5. kingkowboys says:

    Glad to here it come from his mouth that Wheeler at CB would be out of desperation now.
    I think his comments on BC are really him playing both sides of that situation. He knows that he has better options at CDM but doesn’t want to lose BC’s commitment to the team so he’s talking up his role. BC should pretty much be a player/coach at this point.
    I hate the fact that the loanees to HCI will likely not play against the U, but I understand the contractual aspect of it. Still though it’s unsettling that a team will be decimated of key players because they are owned by a parent club.

  6. John Hackworth proves every time he has a press conference just how inept and ill equipped to run a professional team. Everything he talks about is high school, college, or U17 in tone and context. Except for the questions posed by JT and Kevin possibly one other reporter, the questions were of the usual weak don’t rock the boat variety. For example:Brian Carroll’s confidence, team nerves, competition for starting sports, and the importance of playing at home. ARE YOU KIDDING ME! Totally Fox News. Only two reporters(JT and Kevin)had the guts and professional integrity to challenge the nauseating BS that is regurgitated by Hackworth every week by bringing up Hackworth and his staffs responsibilities regarding the use of Wheeler at CB,Ethan White etc. It seemed to send a message to Hackworth that from now on he is going to be ask tough probing questions and no more side stepping. Even the paid for Kerith Gabriel couldn’t spin things to help Hackworth this time. I was hoping for more but hopefully next time. Again thank you JT and Kevin.

    • Thanks. About the audio that cuts out near the end of the clip – I was basically just asking a follow-up question, “what is the decision contingent on”? That got cut off for some reason.

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