Union manager John Hackworth was direct when asked what he wants to see from his team in September and October.
"Improvement," said Hackworth at his weekly press conference. "I want to see guys fighting for their job and making sure that they develop as players. If they do that, they'll push the whole group. That will make for some very difficult decisions for us in the offseason, but that's the great thing about having a young group of guys that are willing to do that. We have some cagey veterans who 'get' that as well. They've been around, and there's a reason they've been there for so long. That experience, that knowledge being passed along to younger guys is really important."
With nine games to play, Hackworth admits that the playoffs are currently out of the picture. But with the team in the midst of a two-week break, it’s a chance to regroup, train hard, and get ready for the home stretch.
“This break is actually good for us because we can train and we can improve on little things,” Hackworth explained. “Details, individuals, collective group effort, you know, (we’re working on) everything. We're using this time to ‘go after it’ a little bit. The guys have been fantastic in their response. We have a good attitude about trying to get better right now. That's all you can ask for as a coach.”
The primary goal in training is to improve in the attacking third.
Philadelphia failed to score in Saturday night’s 0-0 draw at New England. The team has now scored just 3 times in the last 6 games dating back to August 4th.
“Finishing has been a focus for us,” added Hackworth. “And (we’re) trying to make sure this group understands where we are and that we have a little work to do. I think that's good for this team right now – that they're responding well. So aside from finishing, we've tried to make sure that guys come into this week with the mentality that they want to do better. (It's about) how they train, and how they come into it – what are the little details that will allow them to become better? We've had a lot of individual meetings, conversations with specific points about what guys are working on, trying to make it competitive in these training sessions, and trying to hold the whole group accountable for each other. That seems to be working right now.”
At this point in the season, it’s about finishing strong.
“We want to end on a good note,” Hackworth said. “We want to make sure that, if this is in fact a situation where we're not playing for a playoff spot, then every single game we continue to try to improve. And if we do that, we'll probably get some results and that's what we're hopeful of.”