Union Notes: Fixture congestion ends with Columbus; transfers hinted, and more

JackMcInerneyTorontoFC1 (PhillySoccerPage)

By JOEL HOOVER

A busy slate of multiple games in a few weeks is almost an inevitable part of any soccer team’s season, creating results that leave a major impact on the season as a whole.

For the Philadelphia Union, their own personal stretch of four matches in 12 days, including two trips into Canada and a U.S. Open Cup match, comes to an end tomorrow night at home against the Columbus Crew.

“I think we’re doing well,” manager John Hackworth said during the team’s weekly press conference. “One of our strengths as a group is that we’re fit, we recover quickly, and we have the ability to play the number of games we’re playing in a short time frame.”

The aforementioned stretch of matches has seen the Union lose 5-3 to Montreal on the road on May 25, defeat the Ocean City Nor’easters 2-1 in the US Open Cup 3rd round on May 28, and save a point in a 1-1 road draw with one-win Toronto FC this past Saturday. The results have summed up a very uneven month of May for the Union, where they went 2-2-1 in the league and picked up both wins in 1-0 results over Chicago.

“I don’t think we’ve been consistent at all (over the past few weeks),” Hackworth said. “Part of that is your opponents…the rigors of the league…the demands of trying to play this many games in a small window. There’s a lot of times in the last 12 days where this team could have put their head down…but I don’t think we’ve ever given up.”

Here are some more notes from the Union’s weekly press conference:

SUMMER TRANSFER ACTIVITY HINTED

Much has been made of Hackworth’s roster moves in the past year since taking over for Peter Nowak, as he has moved out many of Nowak’s pieces and molded the squad with his own vision in mind. Bringing players in is something Hackworth admits he wants to do when the summer transfer window opens.

“We are certainly looking because we are not totally satisfied,” he said, speaking about players he thinks could help fill out the roster. “We think we have some issues right now: for sure at the back, in terms of our depth.

“We’re probably about two to three spots away from feeling like it’s the most complete roster we could have, but it’s not that easy.”

Several considerations will need to be made for a transfer to happen. Available allocation money, positions where players are needed, and cap space, which the team worked to free up by moving Bakary Soumare and Gabriel Farfan in recent weeks, were all mentioned by Hackworth. However, the team’s scouts are currently working hard to scout out possible acquisitions and players who could fill some of those roster spots.

“We’re certainly in a good spot to make some moves, but we have to make the right move for this team and this club,” Hackworth said. He also noted that the team are “better off than they were two weeks ago” regarding the cap space and allocation money.

OTHER NOTES

  • Hackworth mentioned that the Union will try to “utilize their depth” tomorrow night against Columbus in light of the recent schedule and to see if it will make a difference in performance. He also said that several fringe players could see action in the upcoming friendlies with Reading United on June 7 and the Harrisburg City Islanders on June 18.
  • Kleberson has a minor thigh pull and is questionable for tomorrow’s match. Michael Lahoud is also still continuing his recovery from a sports hernia, but the rest of the Union’s squad is healthy and available.

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What do you make of these notes? Do you see the Union winning on Wednesday? Who do you see the Union bringing in this summer? Do you see anyone on their way out?

Share your thoughts below.

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13 Responses to Union Notes: Fixture congestion ends with Columbus; transfers hinted, and more

  1. Timmy U says:

    The Union need to “utilize their depth” to do more than rest players. Performances in May were extremely inconsistent, as Hack acknowledged. Squad players need to be given a chance on the playing field to compete for time, not just in practice.

    • Esteban de la Sexface says:

      Agreed. Though when given a chance in the Open Cup, Leo Fernandes did very little to build a case that he should be playing in the league.

      • From my seat in the river end, Fernandes looked like one of the lone bright spots on the team. Everyone else definitely looked tired(which is a valid excuse considering the congestion) but he stuck out and seemed to be the only player doing anything on the Ocean City side of the field in the first half. Le Toux eventually came around and gave a solid performance too, but Fernandes looked to be one of the most engaged creative players in the attacking third for the Union in that game.

        • Esteban de la Sexface says:

          He definitely had two (or three) nice dribbles, but he was caught with the ball a half dozen times. Plus he missed three good chances and was dispossessed some of his dribbling forays. Finally he was dead tired by the 70th and didn’t work particularly hard defensively throughout the game. While not everyone needs to (or can) work like Le Toux, it’s not a good sign when a player is jogging around the field when given a chance to prove himself.

  2. Patavia says:

    I’d be surprised if there isn’t some European interest in McInerney this summer. He or Farrell may be the next big move. Just my opinion though.

    • Joe says:

      I think Jack needs another year before interest heats up. Making the Gold Cup roster and performing like he has in MLS could change that though. He still has some rough edges but there is no doubt he is excelling at finding the net, especially when it counts.

      • PD says:

        Agreed. Right now he is a young kid on a hot streak. If he can finish in the top 3 or 5 goals orders two or three seasons going then he’ll get some real interest.

        Besides, I think it would be in his best interest to take his time and establish that kind of alive… Lots of folks jump the pond too soon and never really pan out.

      • I agree with PD. At least show a full season of solid play before we start talking about a move to Europe. His agent should be fielding preliminary calls, but they’ve gotta be very preliminary. He’s a young kid who’s shown well for a month. His youth gets him a look in the Gold Cup. His play in the Gold Cup and beyond shows the quality of player that he actually is. Then we can start talking about transfers.

  3. Adrian says:

    Let’s see how Jack does in the Gold Cup.

  4. UR says:

    There were available roster spots – and international ones at that – before the team traded away Soumare and Gabe Farfan. At the same time, I don’t know how much cap space they really freed up, seeing as the team is still on the hook for a large chuck of Soumare’s salary this season, and a smaller chunk in 2014. Too bad the FO nixed the impending trades for Califf/Frei from TFC and Harvey from Vancouver, which would’ve helped shore up the backline; Califf for CB depth, Frei to push (or pass) MacMath, Harvey to start as a legitimate LB.

  5. Esteban de la Sexface says:

    The Union have been consistently poor over the past several games. Montreal took them apart. They barely beat one of the league’s worst teams. They barely beat a PDL team. And with a one-man advantage, they barely drew against one of the league’s other worst teams. In addition to the poor results, their play has been terrible as well.

    Hackworth hasn’t done anything to improve this team and the only reason why they are better than last season is that the young players are maturing (Okugo, McInerney, Williams, Gaddis) and they have a brought in some better guys (Casey, LeToux, Kleberson). This team is just as clueless as they were under Nowak, they’re just clueless with better players. There is nothing that I’ve seen from Hackworth that inspires any confidence.

    • Drew says:

      Can’t agree more with you… This season couldve easily been like last year, but they went out and made some obvious, necessary moves… I’m not a huge supporter of a lot of our bench players, but i do think we need to give them chances to shine… We’ve all seen what Daniel, Cruz, and Farfan can offer… I’m more interested in what can Torres do with this line-up. Quality has increased from last year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t change this line-up and missed the playoffs.