Hackworth touchline

Finding 'the right fit' to bolster Union is mission critical for Hackworth

John Hackworth had the interim tag removed on Aug. 30, 2012.

It was clear going forward that the Philadelphia Union would be his team to manage. It would also be his team to shape.

As the manager, opposed to being an assistant coach or interim manager, Hackworth has had the chance to put his stamp on the franchise.

Heading into the fourth MLS season for the Union, Hackworth has certainly continued to piece a club together his way.

There have been a number of changes, including re-acquiring forward Sebastien Le Toux and also trading for defender Jeff Parke and forward Conor Casey. There have been other moves such as bringing in assistant coach Jim Curtin and Director of International Player Development Ricardo Ansaldi.

Almost surely, there will be other changes on the horizon.

The MLS SuperDraft and Supplemental Draft are looming.

Regardless of which moves are made, this much we know: Hackworth will build the Union in his vision.

“I think each move we’ve made, it was done with a lot of thought with our current needs and where we’re heading as a club,” Hackworth told philadelphiaunion.com. “We brought back Sebastien and added Jeff Parke and Conor Casey, and we think each particular player brings things that we’re looking for. They’re great character players, and they’re players we believe are the right fit for our franchise. As a staff, we talk about players all the time and we’ve been very diligent and will continue to be that way.”

On Nov. 9, 2009, Hackworth joined the Union as an assistant coach to Peter Nowak. Then he was named interim manager on June 13 last season.

When that tag was removed, everything changed. When the regular season ended, it signified the first offseason for Hackworth as the official team manager.

Was there any pressure attached to this change?

“Sure, I think there’s always going to be pressure because of the profession we’re in,” Hackworth said. “I think for us, it was important to remain focused on the type of players we were searching for. I had my eye on a number of players and we’ve been able to get some things done already, which we’re very pleased about. This may be the first offseason doing this as an MLS manager, but I have been through this before on other levels.

“I think having that experience, and having a technical staff here that we’ve assembled, makes it a team effort. I don’t feel extra pressure, but I do understand how important is to make the right moves going forward because we want to keep pushing forward and shaping this club the right way.”

The preseason in Orlando-Deltona isn’t that far away, so the club will be back in action very soon.

Between now and the regular season opener on March 2, the roster could still be tweaked. Whatever is done will be accomplished his way.

“We’re always looking to improve our club,” Hackworth said. “I don’t think that ever changes. If there’s something that can be done, we will certainly explore it. We will look at everything, but it has to be the right move and the right player for the Union.”

Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at andy.jasner@yahoo.com

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