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John Hackworth Thinks the Union Deserve More Respect; What Do You Think?

Jun 21, 2013, 4:40 PM EDT


CHESTER, Pa. – For the second time in the past month or so, Philadelphia Union manager John Hackworth did his best Rodney Dangerfield impression and talked about not getting enough respect.

He said it the first time before hosting the Los Angeles Galaxy on May 15, before the Union dropped a 4-1 decision to Landon Donovan and company.

Now, as the Union prepare to face the New York Red Bulls in a nationally televised showdown Sunday at PPL Park, he’s saying it again.

His reasoning is simple and certainly carries with it some merit. The Union are currently in third place in the Eastern Conference with a respectable 6-5-4 record. Should they beat the second-place Red Bulls on Sunday, they’ll have a better record than their star-studded rivals to the north. And yet Hackworth has seemed to draw a lot of criticism on social media and the Union don’t seem to be considered much of a playoff contender, as evidenced by them ranking 14th out of 19 teams in the most recent power rankings.

So why is his team not getting as much credit as he thinks they should?

“That’s an excellent question, ” Hackworth said. “And I don’t know. I think part of it is Philly. This town has a high expectation for their teams. … I think that’s part of this culture, part of this city and part of the desire to be a champion. And we certainly have those aspirations for sure. But we know there’s a process to get there. I guess that’s what my major point would be: you need patience and you need time to get to do those things and to really build things that are long-lasting and solid.”

Indeed, if you look at where the Union were last year at this time, there’s really no comparison. Their record was a dreadful 2-8-2, they had just fired embattled manager Peter Nowak (who had impressively and dramatically disassembled a team that had made the playoffs a year ago) and their entire offense was pretty much focused around a striker who couldn’t score (Lionard Pajoy).

Since then, Hackworth has unglued Amobi Okugo and Jack McInerney (the league’s leading goal scorer) from the bench, reacquired Sebastien Le Toux (the league’s leading assist man), and brought in hard-nosed veterans like Jeff Parke and Conor Casey.

Even the staunchest Hackworth critics (who don’t like many of the coach’s lineup decisions) would probably prefer a starting XI that features Okugo, McInerney, Le Toux, Parke and Casey over the one that featured Pajoy, Gabriel Gomez, Freddy Adu and the rest of Nowak’s guys who never panned out in Philly.

Of course, the critics have their points, too. Hackworth has made some puzzling lineup decisions and has yet to find a midfield with much creativity; the defense has been leaking goals recently; and the Union have only beaten teams beneath them in the standings.

So what do you think? Should the Union be given more credit for their above-.500 record considering where they were a year ago? Or do they need to start beating some of the league’s best teams (starting Sunday) to earn more respect?

Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for, and The 700 Level. Email him at

  1. philsoc8 - Jun 21, 2013 at 4:55 PM

    I think individual players have earned respect this season, but there quite a few players who get regular playing time but never impress. Also, while the Union have gotten some good results, they never seem to play in a consistent style, despite having a fairly stagnant lineup. Finally, there have been more than a few points earned against the run of play and a lot of crap performances against better teams and mediocre showings vs. poor teams.

    So Hack, beat NYRB on Sunday and you’ll earn some respect. Lost badly like you did against the Galaxy and we can save all the Negadelphia BS.

  2. 33 - Jun 21, 2013 at 5:03 PM

    I agree with the sentiment that this match is a litmus test of whether or not they deserve more respect league-wide. So far, good teams have trampled them, and their record is highly influenced by having played mostly weaker teams. The next month will likely see a fall to the middle or lower.

    Not sure if that means I don’t respect them. I’m certainly at every game…

    A bit surprised he made the “our own fans” comment, as he knows as well as anyone that they’re lucky to have fans after the Nowak debacle. That ended exactly a year ago and the time since then has been spent trying to fix it. It’s not the usual “Philly expects XYZ from it’s teams” reasoning. Sure that’s true, but the elephant in the room is that the team sold its most popular players, and there were rumors the former manager did so for personal gain. It’s gonna take more than just-above-.500 footie against a soft first-half schedule to get things back to the 2010 fever pitch at PPL Park.

    That being said, the comment doesn’t bother me. A bit uncharacteristically tone deaf for a coach I happen to like quite a bit, but I like that it’s important to him that the team be respected. Man, just typing that makes me realize what an easy act to follow Nowak is, aside from the whole having to completely rid the team of all evidence he ever ran it ting (other than the DOOP song).

  3. Mostel - Jun 22, 2013 at 9:38 AM

    Respect…………….how about we don’t choke our opener to Sporting KC? How about we get a goalie who can actually stop a ball?

  4. andrewstoltzfus - Jun 23, 2013 at 7:35 AM

    You do realize that to be .500 you have to win at least half of your total games played. The Union have only won 6 of their 15 games. So it is not an above .500 team.

  5. Mostel - Jun 23, 2013 at 7:02 PM

    3-0 Union! RESPECT! Nice win guys!


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