Hackworth pleased with mentality

Coach praises players' efforts in training

When the Philadelphia Union walk on the pitch at BMO Field Saturday afternoon against Toronto FC, it will officially mark the end of a two-week break between matches.

The Union last played on Sept. 1 at New England in what wound up being a scoreless draw. That draw extended the Union’s winless streak to six (0-3-3) and left the club with two weeks to prepare for Toronto FC.

Having that time off has been beneficial.

The players are rested and anxiously awaiting this match.

“I think they’re in a great place,” Union manager John Hackworth said at his weekly press conference on Wednesday. “It’s been a good week-and-a-half of training. When you have these breaks and you ramp up the intensity in your training sessions, you’ll get a pretty good idea of where teams are and players’ mentalities.

“If they play, they can kind of say, ‘Oh, man are you kidding me, we got to play this weekend and we’ve got to train hard’ or they can say they’re going to attack it. Certainly, they’ve gone after it and have put in a lot of good work. That’s been very effective and efficient. At the same time, guys have approached it the best possible way.

“All signs point to our mentality as a group is pretty good right now.”

The Union (7-13-5) are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, ahead of only Toronto FC at 5-17-6. Toronto FC will enter Saturday’s match with a winless streak of eight.

Philadelphia isn’t caught up in statistics or records. It’s simply a matter of playing well, executing and doing everything Saturday that it has done over the past 14 days in training.

If the Union do that, good things are likely to occur.

“This league is so tight,” Hackworth said. “I can remember sitting here and we were on a four-game win streak and the feeling was that was never going to end. And the reality is anybody that plays or coaches in the league know that those things don’t last long here. For us, we’re happy with the fact that we think that we have performed well enough to win, performed well enough to get results.

“We have to continue that. If we do that, we feel like we put ourselves in a good position. That’s the approach we’re taking to it. We’re trying to be consistent with our performances. When you do that in athletics, it usually translates into positive results for you.”