Well, the technical staff HAD an idea of Saturday’s starting 11 in mind.
But courtesy of the 34 players in camp all vying not to be the odd man out, John Hackworth and Co. had to scrap getting a jump on that notion ahead of the first preseason match of 2013 against Orlando City (6 p.m., www.philadelphiaunion.com/live)
In his weekly presser Wednesday from sunny Deltona (where it was 76 degrees at the time of this post) Hackworth informed the media members assembled via conference call that a definitive 11 hasn’t been easy to construct.
“I would’ve told you yes, a week ago, but now…long story short…no,” Hackworth revealed. “The competition within the players has made for some very difficult decisions. We’ll be using these games as a true evaluation test.”
The game against Orlando City is one of six the Union will play during its two-week stay in the Orlando-Deltona region. The remaining five mark the first time the Union will play MLS competition in preseason.
Hackworth opened up on the injury front, revealing forward Aaron Wheeler (illness) and midfielder Cristhian Hernandez (high ankle sprain) are on the mend. Hernandez was fitted with a boot and has been staying fit via resistance band and stretching exercises with strength and conditioning coach Kevin Miller. While the timeline for Wheeler’s return is sometime next week, as for Hernandez the prognosis is still cloudy.
“We are hoping he’ll be back before the end of this Florida trip,” Hackworth said of Hernandez. “Aaron Wheeler hasn’t been in training with us and has been out for a bit but when he was here he was fantastic.”
So with the gameplan up in the air on who will play, what is the overall desire of the coaching staff to get out of everyone in these upcoming matches?
“We have six games here and what we want to do is slowly build up all the players so that we feel they are ready to play 90 minutes,” Hackworth said. “We want to make sure that we go into that March 2 and that everything we have worked on [this preseason] is accounted for. The games are a really good evaluation tool and in general, we are looking to instill what we have worked on at both sides of the ball mainly on attack. and know their position defensively and when we lose the ball.”
For those of you that are Keon Daniel, Roger Torres and Raymon Gaddis aficionados, Hackworth noted that all three are playing well in camp right now. Arguably, three who are proponents of what has made the decisions tough for technical while conversely Hack noted that some of the newbies need to quick adapt to the system and that the progession is slower for some that others.
This is typical for most rookies when you think about it.
“Guys like Keon Daniel and Roger Torres…Ray Gaddis have come in and played well,” Hackworth said. But really as a whole, it’s been healthy competition and everyone is in tune with what we are trying to do and how we are trying to play.”
In the news…
USSoccer.com caught up with Union forward Conor Casey and picked his brain about the last time the Americans played Honduras in a match that fueled the path to a berth in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The win came in San Pedro Sula; the site of today’s match and according to the New York Daily News the murder capital of the world.
Scary thought, but one that makes for a whole ton of intrigue.
Enjoy the match, if you don’t get BeIn Sport or couldn’t make it down to San Pedro Sula and live in the area here's a rundown of Union pub partners that will be hosting the match slated for a 4 p.m. kickoff.
Catch you tomorrow…
Contact Union writer Kerith Gabriel at email@example.com