The Final Whistle by John Hackworth

The latest letter from manager John Hackworth to our supporters

Dear Supporters,

So our "long strange trip" has turned into the 90's movie "Groundhog Day".  I keep expecting to see Bill Murray at the breakfast buffet!  We train, eat, train, eat, sleep, and do it again. For instance, my sister was in town to watch yesterday’s game and asked, “So what do you guys do on Sundays?”  I told her we do the same thing we did on Friday, and Thursday, and Wednesday...  You get the idea!  Preseason is a grind but it serves a purpose and the players/staff have done an excellent job of rolling through each day in a productive manner.

Well, it could be worse, at least we are in the Sunshine State and the “chamber of commerce weather” has not disappointed.  More importantly the facility in Deltona (Dewey O. Boster Sports Complex) is in immaculate condition.  I have to give a big shout out to all of the folks in Deltona…from the welcoming party that met us at the airport (even though we arrived late from Philly) to the people who take care of the fields (and us), especially Tom and Miguel, to Mayor John Masiarczyk and all the youth soccer players and parents that came out to see us Sunday morning.  Thanks Deltona for making our home away from home so great!

Now for the juicy stuff, the game Saturday night against Orlando City (OK, I am exaggerating; it’s not really that juicy).  While it was good to finally play against somebody else beside ourselves, we didn’t exactly preform to the best of our abilities.  Some of that is just a result of it being the first preseason game, some of it was Orlando being a quality and motivated opponent, some of it was heavy legs from three weeks of double days, etc., etc.  However, excuses aside, our team knows that we still have a lot of work to do in order to reach the level that we all know we are capable of playing.  We still have five preseason games left in the next two weeks.  We scheduled that many games so that we could make sure our plan to ramp up each players “minutes” in successive games was achievable.  For example, in Saturday night’s match, the starting 11 played 60 minutes, while the second group played 30 (duh).  In our next game on Wednesday against Columbus, the majority of that second group will play 60 minutes.  The plan is to increase the minutes in each match until all the players are ready to play a full 90 at the level of intensity that we have trained for. 

A couple additional thoughts from Saturday night’s game. It was great to finally see Jeff and Conor in Union jerseys.  Oh yeah, and it was great to see Seba back in one.  Also, how about a rookie scoring a goal in his debut?  We like Leo and think that you might see more of him in the next couple games.   Our staff thinks there are a few other rookies that you’ll also like before our preseason is complete.  Lastly, there were some good individual performances last night, but rest assured, you haven’t seen anything yet.

 

John Hackworth

Team Manager

Philadelphia Union

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