Category Archives: Union
Amidst all of the madness of the US playing playing Belgium tomorrow at 4 pm I’d like to drop a side piece of information regarding the MLS. Kaka, who is a former Brazilian World Cup member and cover man to FIFA ’11, will likely be joining Orlando City FC in 2015.
Haven’t heard of Orlando City FC? It’s because they haven’t played yet. The club will begin playing games next season in the MLS as will New York City FC.
Like I mentioned on Around the Cooler a few weeks back, New York City FC has added Spanish forward David Villa and Frank Lampard of Chelsea. Together these moves will added some serious buzz to the 2015 year and boost the league’s prestige.
If you’d like to read more about Kaka’s move to Orlando you can check it out here!
The US Mens game against Ghana has reportedly generated over 11 million viewers for ESPN on Monday night. If you consider the online viewership, streaming, and DVR recordings I’ve seen numbers as high as 16 million out there. It’s another sign that soccer is truly on the rise in America and it’s nice because I now have something to tangibly throw into Ray’s and Turtle’s face on the podcast when they sip the Haterade.
So which cities provided the most viewership? They were, in order: Washington DC, New York, Hartford-New Haven, Boston, Columbus, Baltimore, Providence, Orlando, San Francisco, and Norfolk.
Sadly, no Philadelphia on the list. We’ll have to step it up on Sunday against Portugal because while our Union may stink, the Union as a whole is on the rise.
Here’s what we’re talking about:
- Jimmy Rollins, the Hall, the numbers, and….McNabb?
- The Sixers new practice facility in Camden
- We begin quizzo on the show!
- The Cup, the Finals, and Evan Mathis’ bill.
What are you talking about around the Wooder Cooler this week? Leave us a comment!
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When it really comes down to it, a firing is one of the most conflicting events in sports.
At times, change is absolutely necessary in a team to the point that a player or coach needs to be let go. The only way improvement can happen sometimes is to change personnel–even at the expense of somebody’s job and living situation.
The dismissal of John Hackworth as manager of the Philadelphia Union is one such case. On the surface, it is a move that probably needed to be made for many reasons. However, the timing and the man it happened to add layers of pain to the affair. Worst of all, it comes amidst the fifth season of the Union’s existence–one that has been fraught with disappointment and continued mediocrity since it was founded in 2010.
It is worth remembering when Hackworth’s tenure began: June 13, 2012, almost two years ago. At the time, the Union were 2-7-2 (8 points), woefully underperforming, and had seen the identity of the squad stripped down by enigmatic manager Peter Nowak. With key players like Danny Mwanga and Sebastien Le Toux sent packing and a host of unknown players from South America imported in, the team and its manager had alienated themselves from the very fan base who had prompted the founding of the team.
Into the breach as interim manager stepped Hackworth, the main assistant to the club and before that a manager in the youth levels of the U.S. National Team. Not only did he have to somehow pilot the club to the end of a disastrously started season, but he would also have to begin to undo the damage Nowak made both on and off the field.
The team started brightly enough. After a somewhat promising 1-0 defeat to D.C. United, they erupted for a swashbuckling 4-0 victory over Eastern Conference contenders Sporting Kansas City at PPL Park. League wins over the Los Angeles Galaxy on the road and Toronto FC, Montreal Impact, and New England Revolution at home would follow over the next seven league matches (4-3 record in that span), results filled with attacking play and spearheaded by the promotion of young Jack McInerney to a greater role. With the uncertainty of Nowak gone from the head of the club, it was clear the players were responding to Hackworth.
On August 30, a day after a dramatic 2-1 win over New England at PPL Park, the interim tag was lifted. It was now Hackworth’s team.
The Union would finish 10-18-6 (36 points), eighth place in the 10-team Eastern Conference and 17 points outside of a playoff position. In the offseason that followed, Hackworth shipped out Nowak pupil and longtime United States soccer wunderkind/enigma Freddy Adu to Bahia in Brazil, offloaded South/Central American imports Gabriel Gomez, Proforio Lopez, and Josue Martinez, and pieced together as much of a squad as he could muster through the financial restraints caused by Nowak’s ill-fated decision making. This included getting a deal to bring Le Toux home to Philadelphia, where he had become a folk hero in the club’s first two seasons.
Expectations were hardly high coming into the season given how the team and Hackworth had yet to shake Nowak’s damage. But thanks to several good results and an early-season scoring spree from McInerney, the Union stood at 10-7-7 (37 pts.) on August 10 and still in the thick of the playoff race. Late draws consecutively against FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake at the end of June and beginning of July had been cause for concern, but results were still coming.
And then it all dried up.
[Note from Vince: This is the first article from Joel Hoover who, if you’re into soccer, is kind of a big deal. However, being a true Philly sports fan, he’s very knowledgeable about all five of Philly’s teams. He also took my lunch money once and I told my mom on him.]
Friday morning in the Philadelphia sports landscape saw a surprise early-season development take place down in Chester.
The Philadelphia Union, fresh off a disappointing 1-1 draw with the Montreal Impact last weekend, traded young forward Jack McInerney to Montreal in exchange for 2012 MLS SuperDraft No. 1 pick Andrew Wenger.
McInerney was a Union original, picked seventh overall in the 2010 SuperDraft by the team prior to their inaugural season. Though he was kept in the depths of the team during Peter Nowak’s tenure as manager, it was under John Hackworth that he was finally given a chance to flourish as a regular in the starting XI. The 21-year-old made his breakthrough early in the 2013 season, scoring 10 goals in the opening 14 matches of the MLS season to earn a call-up to the United States Gold Cup team and an MLS All-Star selection. He would finish with 12 MLS goals in 2013, before tallying one in four matches this year to bring his total with the team to 25 goals in 95 matches.
Wenger comes to the Union after being the longtime attacking understudy of Montreal Impact Designated Player Marco Di Vaio. The 23-year-old scored six goals in 51 MLS appearances, but was mostly resigned to coming off the bench as a substitute. He is a native of Lancaster, PA, just an hour away from Chester, and also played for the Union’s PDL affiliate Reading United.
The departure of McInerney has been met with surprise, but as the day unfolded and details were discussed the reasoning is growing somewhat clearer.
With his Generation Adidas tag gone, McInerney was coming to the end of his contract at the end of this season. There was a team option that could have been exercised next offseason by the Union front office, but that would have been met with very high salary demands from McInerney. Given the salary cap MLS employs, and the presence of three newly-minted Designated Players on the Union’s squad, taking on a salary up around $400,000 would have been a very difficult task for the team. Plus, there has been talk for a while that McInerney and defender Amobi Okugo, the last Union original now, would not have both been able to take on a significant hike in their salaries.
With all of this in mind, Montreal may only be taking McInerney on for a one-year rental. The striker has spoken of his desire to move abroad to Europe in the past, and wouldn’t leave the possibility of it out in his initial press conference after the trade. If a move does not materialize after this season, Montreal may still be able to keep him, since DP Di Vaio is in the final year of his own contract and there is speculation that he may retire after this season. The Impact could then take on McInerney’s salary demands–which team sporting director Nick De Santis practically confirmed when he said that the team is planning to exercise the extra year on McInerney’s contract.
So what kind of player are the Union giving to Montreal? The question is actually a more difficult one to answer than a first glance would reveal, but it does play a factor into the reason they decided to do it.