Morgan Hackworth has spent countless hours at Talen Energy Stadium, except when he returns this weekend, he's going to have a much different view. In fact, he's going to be on the pitch rather than watching it.
Akron returns to the College Cup for the second time in three seasons, but this will be the first time Hackworth will be a part of the run. He spent his first two years at Syracuse before transferring to the Zips. 2017 is his first season with Akron, and he's ready to help the team avenge their loss to Stanford two years ago.
"It's already really special to have made it this far," Hackworth said. "Obviously there's a sense of revenge. I wasn't here to be a part of it that year, but it's definitely on everyone's minds. Everyone's really hungry and ready for the game."
Despite it being his first year with the team, Hackworth has been an important player for the Zips. He's appeared in 21 games and registered five assists throughout the season. He appeared in every College Cup match so far for the Zips, and is now ready to play hopefully two matches at Talen Energy Stadium.
Talen Energy Stadium was essentially a second home for Hackworth when he was growing up. His father was an assistant coach from 2010-12 with the Union, and then was the head coach from 2012-14. Hackworth also played for the Philadelphia Union Academy, where he was a part of the U16s and U18s. During his junior and senior years in high school, Hackworth was a team captain, and even helped the Union finish fifth in the Generation adidas Cup.
Because of his time with the Philadelphia Union Academy, Hackworth was prepped for collegiate soccer. He immediately stepped in with the Syracuse squad, and now with Akron, he's played an important role on one of the nation's top collegiate teams.
"It wasn't a hard transition at all," Hackworth said. "The training we had when I was at the Academy was really intense, very fast paced. The transition wasn't very difficult at all because of the coaching staff, the facilities we had, made it all really easy."
For Hackworth, the trip back home has already been an exciting one. He trained on the pitch at Talen Energy Stadium, and come Friday evening, will walk onto the pitch, under the lights where he used to watch the first team players and dream of one day playing there too.
"Walking around the stadium, being in the locker rooms, it's all really nice," Hackworth said. "I'm really excited for it. I showed my teammates where I used to sit in the stands and watch the games. The No. 1 goal on everyone's mind is winning a national championship, and the first thing we need to do is beat Stanford. But it's going to be a special night for sure."