PSP roundtable: Hackworth fired

Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

Philadelphia Union’s firing of John Hackworth changes everything for the organization, so PSP pulled together a panel of contributors to discuss the move.

Do you think the firing was the right move? Why?

Dan Walsh: No, not like this. Yes, Hackworth earned the hot seat with some of his lineup choices this year. But if you’re going to fire him right before a three-week break and the summer transfer window, you should have a permanent replacement ready. (See below.) This basically looks like you’re giving up on the season. What’s the point in that? Giving Hackworth more time, particularly after that second half against Vancouver, was a better alternative to this.

Adam Cann: If there was a clear replacement lined up, yes. Sakiewicz saying that the team will now “begin” a coaching search is not the message I was hoping to see. This team has had the same issues since mid-April. A midseason change should be done with purpose, and it seems like there will be a treading water period now.

Eli Pearlman-Storch: Yes. Because the team wasn’t progressing. Despite minor recent improvements, the Union looked more like they were grasping at straws than honing a well-drilled game plan. With today’s announcement, they are now free to go about their coaching search publically which should, at least in theory, allow them access to the best candidates.

Ed Farnsworth: Ultimately, yes. 3-7-6 over the first 16 games of the season, 9-13-12 over the last 34 games. That’s simply not good enough.

Jeremy Lane: Yes. Simply put, the team underperformed too greatly not to replace the coach. There were signs of a turnaround in the last two games, but too little, too late.

Kevin Kinkead: Yes. The numbers say it all: 3 wins, 7 losses, 6 draws and 15 total points. The team has the third worst points per game total (0.94) in the entire league. Hack’s all-time record as a head coach was just 23-30-20.

What do you think of the timing of the firing?

Dan: Bad timing. It might seem logical because of the World Cup break, but the Union are basically wasting it. If a permanent replacement was in place, that new coach could have used this period as a mini training camp to get to know his team and enact changes. Now, it’s just an interlude, and summer transfer plans could go out the window without a permanent coach in place.

Adam: If it was going to happen mid-season, this is the right time. Again, it would have been better to have a replacement lined up, or at least very close to lined up.

Eli: I have no issue with the timing. It gives Curtin the maximum amount of time to work with the team in the break, though now the US Open Cup match looks a bit more like a preseason game than many Union supporters likely would have hoped.

Ed: The timing surprised me, given the recent spark the team has shown and, not to mention how this will affect the search for reinforcements in the summer transfer window. That there doesn’t seem to be a strong, experienced candidate lined up to replace Hackworth is concerning too. Anyway, we’ll all be looking to see how the players respond when the Union hosts Harrisburg in the US Open Cup on Tuesday.

Jeremy: It was the logical time. The team begins with a clean slate after the World Cup.

Kevin: It should have happened sooner, probably the home loss to D.C. United. But the World Cup break makes sense. You’ve got all eyes on Brazil, so you make the coaching change now, let Curtin manage the Open Cup, then see what happens in the second half of the season.

How do you think the Union should approach the search for a replacement?

Dan: Decide first whether to hire a separate general manager or whether you want your new coach to double as general manager. (Then again, if you want the former, Hackworth would have been ideal.) You need someone on staff who understands MLS roster and salary rules, whether it’s a soccer guy or a numbers guy. You don’t need to hire that person first, but you should decide whether you want him. Separately, the new manager ideally would have been on staff well before the World Cup break ends. This team is too talented to give up on the season. Vincent Nogueira isn’t coming back to a team that misses the playoffs.

Adam: Only two things matter: Experience and a clear tactical plan that fits the roster. Although with Edu on loan, this team could easily be totally rebuilt again in the offseason. So let’s say experience should be paramount. Hackworth was a good breath of fresh air after Nowak, but now there needs to be an experienced leader in charge to clearly point the new direction.

Eli: Any and all possible options should be explored, though perhaps they should steer clear of yet another guy from the Bob Bradley coaching school. After the egomaniacal Nowak and the player-friendly Hackworth, a balance must be struck with a coach who is outgoing and responsive, but also holds his players accountable on the pitch.

Ed: Thoughtfully, carefully, and with great deliberation. If sacking Hackworth is the team conceding the 2014 season, what’s the rush? If they had realistic hopes for 2014, wouldn’t the firing come with the announcement of a new permanent coach? I repeat, there’s no need to rush. Don’t forget, a new coach will very likely mean new assistant coaches too.

Jeremy: They need to take their time. This is a lost season, so bringing someone is just to get it done isn’t going to help anything. Find the right man (or woman). That is the only directive.

Kevin: Take their time. Sakiewicz removed the interim label from Hack after just seven weeks. He promoted him after a home loss. That whole scenario was rushed back in 2012. They need to do a proper coaching search and wait until the end of the season to make an announcement.

What names come to mind as potential candidates for the job?

Dan: Tab Ramos, Veljko Paunovic and Brendan Burke should get calls. Paunovic has the European playing experience to demand respect, has ties to the Union, and won the 2013 European championship with Serbia’s U-19s. Burke did extraordinarily well at the PDL level and, for a while, was the Union’s only assistant coach who wasn’t dedicated to goalkeepers. Eric Wynalda would be fun but would also probably mesh with Nick Sakiewicz like oil and water. Regardless, it should be someone who plays an attacking style. Robin Fraser and Jesse Marsch are perennial candidates, but their defense-oriented approaches don’t excite.

Adam: Jesse Marsch’s name will come up. Obviously, feelers should be put out to Bob Bradley no matter how fruitless the pursuit. If one Bradley can be seduced back to North America, maybe both can. Nobody should call Robin Fraser. If that name is on any whiteboards in Union offices, please take it off. Steve Nicol would be reasonably high on my list. I know I said experience, but Brendan Burke deserves an interview. Ah screw it, they’re gonna bring in Twellman and Lalas after the World Cup, aren’t they?

Eli: Take a gamble on an MLS outsider. Sakiewicz knows the ins and outs of Major League Soccer’s crazy behind the scenes action as well as anyone. What the Union need is someone who can communicate with him and flat out coach this team. Scour the college ranks, Europe, USL and NASL. Find a star and give that star the support and resources they need to grow and develop along with their team.

Ed: I’ve been asking this question of friends and colleagues for weeks and none of the answers seem realistic. Paunovic? He seems quite happy where he is. Wynalda? Atlanta finished the first half of the NASL season at 3-5-1. Jesse Marsch, Martin Rennie, Steve Nicol? Meh. If Brendan Burke was still on the staff, and this was happening a year or two down the line, I would have expected him to take over.

Kevin: Veljko Paunovic is a sentimental favorite. Eric Wynalda and Nick Sakiewicz working together would never work. Jesse Marsch, Steve Nicol, and Martin Rennie don’t really intrigue me. I like the idea of bringing in a foreign coach and pairing him with a new general manager. The coach will coach, and the GM will handle the roster, salary cap, and MLS quirks.

How will this affect the search for summer reinforcements?

Dan: Toss it out the window. What international wants to sign with a team that doesn’t have a coach lined up? What if the new guy doesn’t like you?

Adam: Um, it changes everything. Well, not everything. The same holes still exist, but now you’re looking for loans and trading 2nd/3rd round picks for vets instead of trying to find a long-term solution. Please, please wait until an experienced, long-term coach is in place to rebuild the roster. 

Eli: Drastically. It would be unwise of the Union to pursue a major transfer target without a new manager in mind. If something unbelievable falls in their lap, or a proven veteran MLS player is available at a reasonable price, then maybe they pull the trigger. Otherwise, I would expect a quiet summer. Anything more than that might signal their preparation to remove Curtin’s interim tag, a move that would not be in the best interest of the club’s development.

Ed: To me, this is the immediate question. I mean, the firing can’t be much of a help, can it? Who of real quality would come over from abroad to a team with an interim coach? Would a new coach be happy being saddled with whatever impact an international not of his choosing might put on the team’s salary numbers?

Jeremy: On one hand, players willing to come to a terrible team will probably also come to a coachless one, but do we want those players? Probably not. Also, it’s unwise to bring in new faces when the coach that comes in may not like them. In the end, the talent to succeed is already on the roster (or in Harrisburg), at least if Casey and Le Toux can keep scoring.

Kevin: Were they going to sign anyone noteworthy anyway?

What is Hackworth’s legacy?

Dan: Fundamentally decent individual. Restored the Union’s reputation among fans and players after Peter Nowak was fired. The classic player’s coach. Excellent general manager, worked the trade market and other player acquisition mechanics (amateur drafts, re-entry draft, etc.) very well. Secured good international signings (Nogueira, Maidana) when he finally got some money to spend. Very good in dealing with the media. He was slow to nudge aside players he liked personally when their play sometimes warranted it, such as Brian Carroll and Danny Cruz. He never sufficiently answered the questions about his tactical ability.

Adam: A great guy, a wonderful addition to an organization, a good emotional leader, but he was thrust into the spotlight too early. In five years, Hack could easily be back in the big chair somewhere else, hopefully with a more tactically astute right-hand man. (There’s no nice way to say it. Sorry, Mr. Vartughian.) Other clubs should look at Hackworth as a guy that did a masterful job guiding Philly through a period of transition. The locker room’s devotion to him is something that should be valued elsewhere, just not as the face of the club. Also, it is difficult to measure Hackworth’s legacy without more information about the type of power he had within the club. Was he directing the search for players and making the final choice? If not, that changes things a bit.

Eli: The ultimate good soldier. He tried desperately to make the most out of a bad situation but was simply not prepared for the big time as a full-fledged manager. Deserves credit for keeping his locker room together and never melting down when plenty would have excused him if he had. A class act, just not the right coach for the job.

Ed: Cleaned up the Nowak mess. Repaired a locker room that, at the end of the Nowak era, was turning into a bunch of cliques. A model of accessibility and cordiality to the media. Engineered some stunning offseason moves. Traded away McInerney.

Jeremy: A gifted man manager and GM, Hackworth never displayed the necessary tactical acumen to succeed as a head coach. He should be remembered fondly as someone who never should have gotten the job but did very well in trying circumstances before this season.

Kevin: John cleaned up Peter Nowak’s mess. He straightened out the salary cap, moved on from bad contracts and bad signings, and built a positive environment around the club and the locker room. On the field, he moved Sheanon Williams to right back (which is ironic now), and nurtured Jack McInerney and Amobi Okugo into bona fide young studs. He didn’t draft well, and he made questionable decisions by ignoring the left back position and converting Aaron Wheeler to center back. He set a franchise record with 12 wins in 2013 but ultimately didn’t do enough on the field to justify keeping him around.

Should another team hire him as a manager, assistant coach or general manager/technical director?

Dan: Yes. He was excellent in the general manager role (the Jack McInerney trade appearing to be a notable exception) and would have been even better without so many restrictions, and a smart team would do well to snatch him up for that job immediately. He was a good assistant coach and would be again. And yes, he can be a good manager, although he will likely have to prove himself anew in another role first.

Adam: Absolutely! The guy can be an excellent assistant coach in MLS. He could also work in a front office, though he should probably be groomed before he’s given control of a team. He had a plan to build a team in the offseason and he executed it, he just couldn’t put it together on the field. But for all his flaws as a head coach, Hack remains a stellar locker room guy who can support an aloof head coach.

Eli: Yes, they should. John Hackworth develops strong relationships with his players and he could be an ideal fit as an assistant or even heading a bright academy program. It would be hard to see him given another managing job terribly soon though, given his track record of game day management.

Ed: He shouldn’t have a problem finding work as an assistant or general manager/technical director in the pro ranks. Not sure anyone will be lining up soon to make him their head coach, though, given his record. Maybe a spell in a good college program would help him develop his head coach chops.

Jeremy: Absolutely, he should be considered for front office jobs. He improved the Union with almost every personnel decision he made. Alas, once he had those players, he struggled to maximize their talent, and thus should not be considered for head coaching jobs. Assistant positions are still viable.

Kevin: I would hire Hack to be my assistant coach or academy director.


  1. Hadn’t Hackworth’s team shown us enough to scrap the season? What serious potenial transfer do you think we lost – unless you believe the problems were solved & we start the first winning streak of the year after the break? Who thinks Sak hasn’t been making discreet inquiries before today, but he can’t offer the job(s) to anyone you’d really want until he’s ready to pull the trigger?Would the last seed & a quick playoff exit have kept Noguiera?
    Now is when Sak earns his pay. Explain the vision to Curtin & the players. Keep as many of the best guys as you can. Get value now for the talent that’s not in the future. Sit or release the past.
    Keep the fanbase by bringing up the kids from HCI.
    Here’s one: trade MacMath? What would he fetch and will he flee to Europe anyway?
    The wholehearted commendation is well deserved: John Hackworth is exactly the kind of person you want in your foxhole. All class. Great character. Total team player.
    And how long has PSP been sitting on this roundtable story anyway?

  2. So after being told that 2013 was a write off year as we cleared cap space from Nowak, fans are now to accept 2014 as a write off year. And we are to believe that in 2015 the current front office will make the decisions that allow us to complete with the NY Man City’s of the world, who just signed a player who was a starter in the Champions League final?

    Why would anyone want this job? Players who won’t be here in 2015 by their own choice – Edu, Noguiera, Okugo. The team’s best goal scorer is in his mid-30’s and, let’s be honest, is on his last legs. The back line is a shambles. You have some talent at GK, but that’s it. The rest of the roster is ‘guys who try hard’ but can’t really play soccer and untested kids. You don’t have a practice facility. Plus, you get to deal with Nicky Sak.

    Sadly, the Union are in worse shape than they were five years ago as an expansion club. In the first year, you expect limited talent on the field and growing pains. There is a newness to the stadium experience, feeling like you are getting in on the ground floor of something. You can excuse mistakes made in evaluating talent, tactical decisions, etc. But its now five years, two (and probably three) coaches in, the parking lots aren’t paved, the team has been blown up twice in the past two years, and the team is going to lose the opportunity to cash in on the post World Cup bump. It’s sad, but this situation will not change until the house is cleaned in the front office, not just the locker room.

  3. The Realist Brian says:

    Dan- Tab Ramos hasn’t done anything to get accolades as a coach. He is another phenomenal player that is getting pushed up the coaching ranks with minimal results (in his case, zero results). Tab got thoroughly out coached at the U20 World Cup, and had very questionable player selection…which is why Hackworth is out now, right? Great players don’t make great coaches.
    I believe we should bring in someone to institute a system from top down, that will develop our young players and put players into positions that they will succeed in, not shoe-horn them in (Okugo). If this coach comes from overseas, I will support it. As for US based coaches, there are very few unfortunately that pass this smell test. Caleb Porter would be top of my list, followed by Jason Kries and we ain’t getting them. But where can you find smart coaches who know the game and play possession oriented soccer and more importantly have a proven track record? I would look at college coaches first and some come to mind:
    Sasho Cirovski-Maryland
    Brian Wiese-Georgetown
    Ken Lolla- Louisville
    Jeremy Fishbein- New Mexico
    Those four have built incredible, attacking teams in the Porter Akron model. Especially Cirovski. He is a tough coach who knows how to win. Also, most of these guys are not in the soccer mafia that is USSF (at least I hope they aren’t). So if I am Sak, I wouldn’t have waited to pick up my phone and see the resumes piling in, I would have been working the phones all day yesterday as an engaged CEO and Chief Operating Investor and got these guys on the horn.
    But again, we can fire all the head coaches that we want, but we are stuck with Nick until someone wealthy that cares buys his ass out. So the question is, will he deliver or is he on the way to crapping all over Philadelphia like he did in Tampa and New York? That is the question boys and girls. Let that trouble you this evening as you chew on that.

    • Dan Walsh says:

      Great points on the college guys. I’m not specifically advocating hiring any of those guys I listed above, but if I’m the Union, I at least pick up the phone and call them.
      But let’s be honest: Even those lists that we tossed out there go through most of the usual suspects. The soccer world is a big place. We have no idea what candidates might emerge from left field — or Germany.

  4. Somewhat surprised at the timing. Earlier in the season, when the team was leaking goals and not scoring, this would have made more sense to me. After the last two games, it seemed like the offense had gotten itself figured out. Maidana’s creativity was finally in step with other players and their thoughts. Casey is rounding into form. The two first half goals in the Vancouver game aside, these were two of the best performances of the team this season. I thought Hack’s substitutions in this most recent game were ambitious and really effective.

    Hack’s fatal flaw this season was lacking a veteran centerback. The pairing has been off all season. Berry’s results have been mixed, Wheeler is an emergency option, not a starter, and Ethan White is nowhere to be seen. Williams isn’t a bad option in a pinch, but continuously rotating players on a young backline is a recipe for disaster. Okugo has asserted himself as a starter under Hack but losing Jeff Parke and not replacing him with the same level of player has been a mess.

    You can pick on Hack’s trust in young players if you want. And his willingness to shepherd a team through growing pains instead of playing to win now. His choices in this most recent re-entry draft didn’t make any sense to me (and I can’t say I’ve seen anything out of Corben Bone this year to say otherwise.)

    I’ve been impressed by his turnaround of the salary cap and by the players he recruited to Philadelphia this offseason. In the end, the results at the end of the last season and the beginning of this one just haven’t been good enough.

    Jim Curtin will do a fine job as interim manager but I will be surprised if he is still in charge when the World Cup break is over.

    I had hoped that gaining some momentum into the break and the possible return of Carlos Valdes (maybe?) could have set us up for a run in the second half of the season.

    • VERUCA SALT says:

      yea but…. yea but…. they were just so bad PSPTim. as if 45 minutes provided some kind of revelation. some kind of structure. as FUN as the 2nd half was it wasn’t the truth, the 1st half showed all the warts- the warts are mottled and grey and so unbecoming. The warts haven’t gone away. The warts are the truth. “We’re on the road to Nowhere” -save a change.
      Our best best hope is the front office gets this right. NY Man City? I DO NOT WANT DAVID VILLA. I DO NOT WANT THIERRY HENRY. I do not want age old european STARs coming here. It makes this league look a mockery- post prime players plying the last ounce out of their careers with a killer payday taking money from homegrown kids. I want young lust. young blood. I want a system and a style of play centered around a distinct philosophy. I want a coach who knows how to overload a zone with 6 players all positioned exactly 8M apart already 2 moves down the field- I want that taught to the Union Futures and the U14, U16, U18 & Reserves. I want LEGACY. I want players who don’t play is such a God Damn hurry all the time. I want the ebb and flow of the ocean. I WANT BEAUTIFUL FUTBOL. Then someday, in 20 years, when Thierry Henry is in his prime, he can choose to come to MLS.
      I am tired of the dreck. I simply must have one of those coaches capable of instating my philosophy.

      • Do you believe MLS should be putting the big bucks toward pulling in big time managers and academy directors instead of stars past their prime? Its not an argument Ive heard often but I’d love to hear you develop it more. Usually its an argument of player quality I hear, not managerial quality. (I remember watching The Two Escobars on 30 for 30 and them talking about all of the coaching and managerial talent that was attracted to Colombia in those days by big money and how it shaped that Colombian soccer generation.)

        I don’t think it translates into the shirt sales and press the same way though. Don’t know if the sponsors would get behind it.

        Maybe the new TV deal and CBA will help with things loosening up in this area.

      • I think we cannot count on US Soccer to develop a philosophy of play that begins at the youth level.
        Part of what many do not understand is that the Spaniards were tired of losing to bigger stronger teams. They kept flaming out in the most important games, so about 20 years ago they unified their philosophy- developed a plan of play and began implementing it at the lowest levels of youth all the way up to the highest La Liga and the MNT. It has resulted in one of the best leagues, and obviously best MNT. I believe a year or two ago, they held every major title across the board save one or two age groups.
        The domination they display is not an accident it was a well coordinated across the board at all levels of play decision. It was up to the coaches to implement the philosophy.
        We cannot count on US Soccer to do this because US Soccer still thinks the game is the best teacher. WRONG. We, it seems, cannot count on MLS to take the lead on this. It needs to be up to the specific MLS club.
        I want the FO to hire a person, who then brings in the right people, with the know how to devise, then put the proper pieces in place, then build a brand of play that begins at the youth level up through all other levels- permeating out to the local clubs, all the while implementing that philosophy and style of play for the first team. I want tactical know how. Not aimless running around the pitch. It is not an accident the spaniard and italian leagues are spaced 8M apart. Working backwards and sideways and forwards.
        This is possible. This is my expectation. So absolutely, yes, my friend, the money needs to be spent on coaching and not players.

      • btw, I am VERUCA SALT!

      • sounds good to me

      • I agree with everything that you wrote. But are we as fans willing to be patient enough to see this system come to frutition in not just the Union,MLS and also USSF? Are we as a fan base ready to go through 2-4 rough years before our youth and system developes into championship caliber? I do not believe our FO is ready to be patient and see a true plan come to light.

      • If done right? You bet! This is leadership. This is 21st CENTURY FOOTBALL VISION QUEST stuff man. This has to be the new paradigm if we have any hope of competing with the top leagues around the world- presuming, of course the MLS wants this.The MLS needs to be driving US Soccer. If this is not their hope, then I will just follow Brendan Rodgers and Bielsa wherever they go and tell my children that they should aspire to Anfield or Turin. Yes. Yes. and yes again we would need to be patient.

  5. jwlockerbie says:

    ok just listened to the 90th minute podcast. The host says well nick, if jim wins the open cup or the mls cup or just turns things around and shows us something he’s got a shot right ? absolutely Nick says!

    Great so much for looking outside of mls…. I know someone else already said it but what are the chances there is a turn around Jim gets made and a year and half from now we are right back here looking for a new coach

    • if jim curtin wins mls cup then he absolutely deserves to keep the job, be serious

      • jwlockerbie says:

        yes that’s true. my concern is its only been a few hours and it seems like the question was a set up for the answer and to slowly low expectations for an outside mls manager.

      • i know sakiewicz is a slimy suit that is hard to trust but i think with how explicit he has been today about needing to make this a winning team i don’t think they are going to settle on someone shitty. last go around there didn’t seem to be as public of a high expectation from the fans and the front office

      • It was as if he was telling you the exact thing you want to hear.

      • maybe but i’m not sure what you want me to do with that observation

    • That 90th minute was PAINFUL. I know it is your job, I know eating out of the garbage really sucks but how far is Peter Papas and Carl Cherkin were wedged up Nick S. ass.

      Highlights include.
      He decided to fire Hackworth last night (I find this very dubious)
      It’s the players fault(Yes…and NO)
      A massive search for a coach (Comb the planet?)
      Jim Curtin Philly guy… Philly tough BLAHBLAHBLAH
      Playoffs??? Open Cup??? maybe maybe not… Who can say.
      Beat KC….
      Nick Sak doesn’t meddle in day to day soccer decisions(maybe)
      And he doesn’t meddle in signings(Bullshit)
      Then more Jim Curtin was a Philly guy stuff and then back tracks into Jim Curtin may get the coaching job.
      All the owners are gonna decide on the new coach.
      Then they talk up Jim Curtin aan unsettling
      amount of time. (I think they want Curtin to work out so they don’t have to find another coach)

      Transfer window!

      another striker? maybe? maybe not…
      Trialists? maybe? maybe not…
      Central Defenders the fault of central defenders and goalkeeper.
      Carlos Valdes? Maybe? Maybe not….
      A pony? Maybe? Maybe not…
      He said much but nothing really concrete

      • you can’t say anything concrete, nothing is concrete until its done

      • The Chopper says:

        He is not going to say that Curtin doesn’t have a chance to earn the job. That would be stupid.

        While he has undoubtedly considered a coaching change for some time, it is conceivable he did not come to a final decision until the last 24 hours. He likes John Hackworth, there was a buzz in the park on Saturday, it must have been tempting to keep him a while longer. In the end he made the right call.

        It would be silly to committ to landing specific types of players in the transfer window. You have no idea what you can get and who might sign, especially if your coaching situation is not finalized.

        There are. a lot of things to give Sak a hard time about, but what else can he say.?

      • I wish he would say nothing at all.
        He rarely helps.

  6. The Black Hand says:

    It was time for Hackworth to be let go. Hanging on any longer would have delayed the inevitable. He was grasping for straws, towards the end. There was not a single glimpse of Hackworth’s vision, let alonne bringing ‘it’ to fruition.
    I know nothing of Curtin, but have seen clubs rally behind interims before. Hopefully he will be less stubborn, regarding pigeonholing personnel, and play his best players. We have a lot of talent…
    We can’t really get any worse, with this sacking. At our best, we were still pretty poor.

  7. Would it be unrealistic to look into women’s soccer coaches? The strategy of the game wouldn’t change because of gender, and this option would provide a good coach for relatively little salary; I don’t think women’s coaches are paid as much. We could do something similar to what Clermont Foot did with Helena Costa.

  8. OneManWolfpack says:

    Hack’s Legacy:

    Positives: Excellent command of he way MLS works behind the scenes. Decent developer of talent. A great person, who was exactly what he team needed after Idiot was fired.

    Negative: Trading away Jack Mac, playing multiple players out of position, lineup selection, and having no real ability to manage in-game. An unhealthy addiction to Cruz and Carroll.
    All in all, I think Eli summed it up very well: “A class act, just not the right coach for the job.”

  9. OneManWolfpack says:

    I’m also really bent out of shape that we are prolly going to lose Noguiera after this season. While I have nothing to base this on, I can’t see him sticking around…assuming his contract allows him to leave. Sucks to lost the player to ever wear your jersey after one season.
    I know this isn’t a Nogs discussion , but does anyone know his contract situation?

    • Good point, and a very real fear. I’d be very interested in a post/discussion aroud who’s likely to be part of the plans for next year, who’s likely to jump ship, etc. Maybe a little early still, but getting a bit anxious about losing top talent and having to reboot the roster.

  10. kingkowboys says:

    I have a feeling that the timing of this move is due to the fact that most other leagues have ended their seasons and dismissed managers. I would not be surprised to see an MLS outsider brought in and Sak being the guide for MLS roster and salary restrictions. I think the focus should be on someone who has tactical acumen and an eye for players who will fit into their system.
    I also would not be surprised to see a college coach awarded the position. They are also out of season and successful ones have to have the qualities I previously mentioned to be successful in college. Sak will provide MLS guidance, but my concern will be that these coaches do not have the people management skills to handle professionals.

  11. I coach kids, 8th grade and younger. I know full well that I would have no business coaching above that level. I don’t have the acumen necessary to handle the higher levels of coaching.
    I think Hack is similar. He should be head of the Union Academy and bring the kids up through the system. But his talents don’t reach as high as the MLS level yet.

  12. Does anyone know if Curtin was promoted to assistant to work directly with the defensive formation and individual defenders? If he had that input and was a major part in the Wheeler experiment then his title should remain interim. It would be interesting to know if Curtin was perhaps over-ruled by Hackworth with regards to defensive philosophy. I guess we will see now. It’ll also be interesting to see how the starting 11 looks. My problem with Hackworth and staff was those players that were brought in with a history of success with other organizations who struggled on the Union under Hackworth and staff. I’m referring in particular to White and Berry. Also all of those young players who could never seem to grow, maintian, or improve under Hackworth and staff. The failures of the Farfans, McInerney,Torres,Fernandez etc who all showed skill and talent but fell off for some reason under Hackworth and staff. Okugo and Gaddis are the exceptions rather than the rule. Hackworth was a nice guy. He was by no means suited to be a professional manager. Now we will see for the time being what Curtin and staff has to offer. I do however, feel that top priority should be someone from outside the Union organization. I honestly feel that this franchise needs to be reorganized top to bottom. I mentioned before that I would like to see new primary ownership brought in like comcast which could improve the organizations financial clout. It would also be great if they could partner with an organization from a top league like EPL,La Liga, Ligue 1, Bundes Liga similar to NYCFC and Manchester City. It would give the Union more options for the parent team as well as their academy system. A CEO with vision could get things like this done. I said before that Philadelphia is the 4th top media and sports market in the country and 2nd on the east cost. It should not be run like a 2nd rate outpost. Now we’ll see just how seriously committed this organization is.

    • Could you imagine the Farfans with Torres and JacMAc after this the 3rd year of playing together- with Okugo at DM. With maybe the addition of the savvy veteran Edu or Noguiera to put the final panache in place?
      I for the life of me will never understand why Roger Torres did not get a legitimate shot with this team. He’s small? Latin? Not physical enough? Exactly. He is the un prototypical american player, who just so happens to see the whole field and deliver deadly passes from anywhere. Great lateral movement with the over the top, opposite no look behind the back pass that #uck!d teams up. Did he have a bunch to learn. Yep. He was also 19 years old.
      BTW- I agree with almost all of your sentiment. THis is the vision I want, deserve and expect. Think outside the box FO- pay big bucks to bring in premier type leadership from Europe or even one of the big clubs from River Plate or Fluminese… I don’t care. Start over because I am all in if I need to wait a few years to be the most dominate franchise in the MLS. I will wait gladly and watch as it all comes together. I don’t need to win a Supporters Shield next year! I want to win 5 out of 7 Supporters Shields in six years!

      • JacMac checking back for a ball from Roger but turning on the dime for a diagonal through run because he saw Roger wink with his left eye after Marfan drew the right defender out of position by a meter with a step to the left. God I can’t take this DRECK.

  13. “But if you’re going to fire him right before a three-week break and the summer transfer window, you should have a permanent replacement ready” and “If there was a clear replacement lined up, yes.”

    Do you guys watch sports? This is not how it works. You can’t conduct a coaching search behind the back of the reigning head coach. Ethics aside, it would be virtually impossible to keep under wraps. So, you have two options – fire mid season, in which case, you get an interim coach or wait until the off season and conduct your search then. They made the right call. Otherwise, you have half a season of lame duck Hack and his floundering squad. What purpose does that serve? Pull the band-aid off now.

    • Really? You think that never happens? Please. Hell, it happened a couple times a year for the New York Yankees back in the 70s and 80s, and it looks very common in European soccer. Separately, I’m not talking full-blown coaching search. I’m talking quiet inquiries to gauge someone’s interest. You think that would be impossible to keep under wraps in MLS? Really? Because independent media scrutiny is just so widespread and SI, ESPN and the local papers have reporters crawling under every rock like with the NFL? OK then. You don’t have to have the guy ready to start the day after you fire him, but it could be fairly soon after.

      • By all means, use George friggin’ Steinbrenner as your example. You said, “…you should have a permanent replacement ready”. That would involve a full blown coaching search. I was just reacting to the quote. Of course they put feelers out. My only point is that mid-season firings almost always result in an interim coach. So, yes, really.

    • That’s totally how it happens in sports which is why you start to hear rumors of a coach/manager getting fired. It’s because management is talking to agents or potential candidates to replace said coach/manager.

    • The Chopper says:

      In baseball, hockey and basketball it is very common for struggling teams to remove a coach and name an interim coach to finish the season (NFL teams rarely make a mid season change). The practice is also common in pro soccer elsewhere.

      The Union situation is a bit more complex as Hackworth was also General Manager. It is easier when their is a bona fine GM in place overseeing the interim coach and handling the players and agents. Trades and signings still can take place.

      It is likely that the next coach of the Union is currently employed elsewhere in MLS. Someone you can not talk to until the season concludes. If you are going outside the league, now is the time to start talking., It is more fair to John Hackworth to have those conversations out in the open then to have him twisting in the wind. Plus John gets a head start in lining up his next job. Overall, I think it was handled well.

  14. the owners need to Sack Sakiewicz before anything will get better. since they will have to dig into their own pockets and buy him out to do that, I suppose we shouldn’t hold our breath. maybe PSP should roundtable that – before it happens. might start the wind blowing, since that’s the way Sakiewicz made his latest decision. Without a replacement in hand to lead a 3 week mid-season training camp, the rest of the season is blown. whatever analysis is made of Hack’s decisions, the players’ decisions on the field ultimately provide the outcomes. a few different decisions by the players and the U are much farther up the table. It doesn’t strike me that they will suddenly start to make better decisions in an even more uncertain environment. Hack is a good coach who brought in good players. letting him go now is unfair to the club’s supporters as yet another tear down will occur and we must wait to see if the new coach can bring in good players. Still behind the club … glad there is a break now.

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