CHESTER, Pa. -- The Philadelphia Union opened the John Hackworth era with an attacking style of play.
They created chances. They played well in the midfield and on the backline. They did just about everything right except put the ball in the back of the net.
One controversial call led to a free kick by Branko Boskovic and a subsequent goal by Chris Pontius in the 78th minute, handing the Union a tough 1-0 loss to their I-95 rival. Other than that, the Union controlled the tempo and outplayed Eastern Conference-leading D.C. United.
Hackworth took over on Wednesday as the club’s interim manager after the Union parted ways with ex-manager Peter Nowak. And while Hackworth was disappointed with the result, he liked what he witnessed most of the night in front of a charged sellout crowd of 18,876 Saturday night at PPL Park.
“I thought the guys played fantastic,” Hackworth said. “If we play that way every week, we’re going to win a lot of games.”
The Union dropped to 2-8-2 and saw their winless streak reach six, but there were many positives to take away from this defeat.
It’s just a matter of finishing the opportunities.
“We’ve just got to finish the chances,” midfielder Freddy Adu said. “It’ll come and the floodgates will open. … We’re not out of it yet. In this league, anything can happen. If we play like this today, we’ll give ourselves a chance every game.”
Philadelphia had plenty of chances, including nine attempts on goal and three shots on target in the first half alone. Second half substitute Antoine Hoppenot, who scored the eventual game-winner against D.C. United in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup, nearly tallied one a couple of occasions.
In the 65th minute, Hoppenot clanged a shot off the post. One minute later, he ripped a shot just wide.
Captain Carlos Valdes also nearly headed a shot home off a crisp corner kick by Michael Farfan.
That was just a sampling.
The Union performed more than admirably on both sides of the ball. A little bit of bad luck and a tough call went against them on this night.
“If we keep playing like that, I think we’re going to come up with a lot of points,” defender Sheanon Williams told philadelphiaunion.com. “I thought we outplayed them for a large part of the game. It was a tough call and they scored. You know what, I’m really proud of the guys. We played hard, gave it 100 percent and it went against us tonight. I’m confident if we keep playing like we did, we’ll get a lot of points.”
Forward Jack McInerney, who received his first start in league action this season, echoed similar thoughts.
“We need to finish better and we win the game,” McInerney said. “Instead of 0-0, we should have been up 2-0 or 3-0 at halftime. They got a break and took advantage of it. It’s a long season and we’ve got to look forward and keep working. We have another tough match next Saturday against Kansas City and we will come back to work and get ready for it.”
That work ethic was evident from start to finish against D.C. United. That work ethic will continue in the Hackworth era.
“We have a great locker room here and everybody gets along,” said midfielder Amobi Okugo. “I don’t think it’s going to be a problem. We’ve got a good, young team and we just need to come back this week and work just as hard for Kansas City. We did a lot of good things. We just need to put it all together.”
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