D.C. United went into a lengthy MLS layoff with plenty of
Five games without a victory ultimately led to a coaching change
for the Philadelphia Union.
John Hackworth will make his coaching debut Saturday night as
the Union try to prevent United from winning four in a row for the
first time in nearly four years.
Philadelphia dismissed Peter Nowak, named the franchise’s first
coach in 2009, on Wednesday after he went 21-30-24 and led the team
to its first playoff appearance in 2011. The Union (2-7-2) are in
ninth place in the Eastern Conference with the second-fewest points
in the league.
Hackworth came to Philadelphia after two years as an assistant
with the U.S. national team under Bob Bradley.
“I’m not Peter Nowak. I’m John Hackworth and I’m going to do
things the way I have done it,” he said. “I believe in the players
we have. … You can’t change things overnight. We have a lot of
work to do. Saturday, we want to compete, put our best foot
Hackworth takes over a club that is 0-4-1 in its last five,
falling 1-0 at Toronto in its last MLS game May 26. The Union have
been shut out four times and are tied for the fewest goals in the
league with eight.
This game will also feature the first MLS game in a Philadelphia
uniform for forward Jorge Perlaza, who was acquired from Portland
on June 6 for Danny Mwanga. Perlaza had six goals and two assists
in 41 appearances with the Timbers.
He scored in his Union debut Tuesday, a 3-2 loss to Harrisburg
in a friendly.
Turning things around won’t be easy, with Hackworth’s first game
coming against conference-leading United (8-4-3). However,
Philadelphia beat D.C. 3-2 in a physical match in the U.S. Open Cup
on June 5.
“I think the last game added onto that (rivalry),” defender
Brandon McDonald told D.C.’s official website. “What it’s going to
bring to the next match is what fans want to see. Grit and fight
and a battle.”
United have won three straight in MLS play for the first time
since a four-game run June 7-29, 2008, and lead the league with 28
goals. They defeated New England 3-2 on May 26 as substitute Maicon
Santos broke the tie in the 61st minute.
Santos leads the team with seven goals while Dwayne De Rosario
is second with five. De Rosario has scored three goals and
registered one of his league-leading eight assists over the last
De Rosario and forward Chris Pontius will be in the lineup
Saturday after missing the previous match against the Union –
Pontius due to an injury and De Rosario because of international
Their returns, along with several other players getting
healthier, could help United end their woes against Philadelphia.
Since entering MLS for the 2010 season, the Union are 3-1-1 in all
competitions versus D.C.