Hackworth reflects on role

Coach thrilled to secure Union future

Hackworth wave

Photo Credit: 
Greg Carroccio

The news came last week and it was just what John Hackworth had been hoping for.

Getting the “interim” removed from his title was worth celebrating.

Hackworth was named the interim team manager on June 13 and proceeded to guide the Philadelphia Union to a 5-6-3 mark in 14 matches, including a scoreless draw last Saturday night at New England in his first official match as the permanent team manager. He also guided the Union to the semifinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup before falling to Sporting Kansas City.

Next up is a visit to Toronto FC on Sept. 15.

Over the next 10 days, he’ll continue to oversee the Union just like he has been. But having that “interim” tag removed makes it even sweeter.

“It meant a lot because it validates the work we’ve been doing over the last three months now, or almost three months, and kind of solidifies the future of where this team is going,” Hackworth told philadelphiaunion.com on Wednesday. “While I felt very confident and I had been in constant talks with (CEO) Nick (Sakiewicz) and (chairman) Jay (Sugarman), and I didn’t have any of those doubts, I think it’s easy within the inside and outside and start saying, ‘I wonder what’s going to happen there?’

“Now that question has been answered. That one has been put to rest. We don’t have to worry about those things. We can concentrate on the job at hand and that’s a big burden off my shoulders as well.”

Hackworth joined the Union in 2009 as an assistant coach. He put in his time under Peter Nowak and was eventually given the interim title on June 13.

Now, he’s in charge and thrilled about the challenge.

“I’ve said it before, but it’s been one of my goals for a long time,” Hackworth said of being a head coach in Major League Soccer. “I’m pretty confident when it comes to my ability. I believe in the work that I do, and I figure if I put in the work then I would eventually get this opportunity. I believe in myself as a coach, so I don’t want to sound too cocky, but I just feel like if you understand where you want to go and do the work to get there, you will. I’ve been very fortunate in my career that those opportunities have come my way.”

Since he was named the permanent team manager, phone calls, voice mails, e-mails and text messages have continued pouring in.

The support has been overwhelming.

“I haven’t been able to get back to all the people yet who got in touch,” Hackworth said. “It’s fantastic. The coolest part for me is a lot of ex-players that for whatever reason I haven’t stayed in contact with or haven’t heard from, for them to reach out and say congratulations and well-deserved, the kind words, it’s fantastic.

“Sometimes, as a coach, you’re so focused on the team and you end up being focused on results. That’s literally what everybody on the outside looks at. You forget about the relationships you have and some of the impressions you make on people.”