Landon Donovan has known John Hackworth since he was 14 years old.
The L.A. Galaxy superstar trained with All-Star Game teammates at Philadelphia's Novacare Complex ahead of Wednesday night's match against Chelsea FC.
He had numerous positive things to say about the Union's interim head coach.
"I think it's pretty clear to everyone in the league that the interim label should be removed and he should be the head coach here," Donovan said following Monday morning's session. "He's done a great job and I've known Hack a long time. First and foremost, he's a good person, and everyone likes him. He's done a great job in the few months he's been [in charge] with Philly. We're all happy that he's done well. It's nice to see him again and it'll be nice to work with again."
Donovan and Hackworth worked together at different levels of the United States national team setup.
"He was in a little bit with the national team," said Donovan. "But he was around for some of those camps in Bradenton, some of the games when I was with the youth national team. He was also in with [former USMNT coach] Bob Bradley a little bit. I don't know him like I know my best friends, but he's a guy I've always had a lot of respect for."
Hackworth took part in five against two ball drills during Monday's session. He says that Donovan sometimes mentions their longstanding relationship.
"He reminded me when we were playing 5v2, he said how old I was," Hackworth joked. [He told me] that I got a lot slower. Good times."
Donovan isn't the only All-Star Hackworth knows from his days with the U.S. National Team. Hackworth has previously worked with four other American players on this year's roster. That includes Jay Demerit, Eddie Johnson, Ramiro Corrales, and Kyle Beckerman. When you add Donovan, and Union captain Carlos Valdes, Hackworth has coached 6 of the 19 All-Stars on this year's team.
"I think so far it's been great [for Philadelphia]. I really think he connects with the players a little bit more," said Beckerman, who worked with Hackworth in the national team setup prior to 2009. "It seems like the results came right away. It seems like there's an upswing in Philly. He's a coach that I feel like players like to play for. I think it's only going to help Philadelphia. It seems like they're headed in the right direction."
"It's interesting and it's great to come back in touch with some guys that you haven't seen in awhile," said Hackworth. "After a game you shake their hand and say 'how you do', but now you get to spend a little bit of time together and that's always good. The soccer world, especially with coaches and players, is pretty small. It's a trusted environment in a lot of ways, and when you get back together with guys it's always great."