WAYNE, Pa. (CBS) – The Philadelphia Union’s 2011 campaign is underway as the squad began training in Wayne this week, before heading to Florida next week for their first preseason camp.
In its inaugural MLS campaign in 2010, the Union went 8-15-7. Union coach John Hackworth called in to KYW Newsradio on Thursday and talked about how the staff, led by team manager Peter Nowak, is approaching these workouts.READ MORE: Off-Duty Philadelphia Police Officer Riding Motorcycle Killed In Crash
“We’ve designed our preseason so that we’re going to slowly ramp up the intensity and volume of what we are doing,” Hackworth (in photo) told KYW’s Matt Leon. “Having YSC (soccer complex in Wayne) as our training facility for this first part has been fantastic, because it allows us to do a lot of stuff with the ball that we obviously couldn’t do outside,” he said, referring to last night’s foot-deep snowfall.
Hear the entire John Hackworth interview in this CBS Philly SportsPod…
The roster has undergone some change from 2010, most notably in goal: all the keepers from last season are gone.
“We brought in Faryd Mondragon and he is a consummate professional, has a ton of experience,” Hackworth said of the veteran half of their new goaltending duo (see related story). “Already in the short time he has been here he’s proven to be a great leader in the locker room and on the field. Everything he does is done well. So we are obviously happy to have him.”READ MORE: Jersey Shore Business Owners Warn Vacationers To Prepare To Pay Up This Summer
As for the more youthful face in goal, Hackworth says that members of the technical staff (Nowak, goalkeeper coordinator Rob Vartughian, and himself) all have had prior experience with 19-year-old Zac MacMath at various levels of his development (see related story).
“We know his potential. He’s an excellent goalkeeper in all facets,” Hackworth said of their first-round draft pick out of Maryland. “Doesn’t mean he is absolutely ready right now. But of all the kids coming out in this year’s draft and all of the young goalkeepers that are out there, he certainly is the one guy that everyone looks at and feels like, down the road, can be the best of the bunch.”
One point of emphasis for the organization this season as they look to take a big step in the standings, says Hackworth, is doing better on the road.
“Part of that was probably our scheduling and the fact that we played 12 of our first 15 games on the road,” he says. “And yet still, at the end of the season, it’s not like our road record improved. So we have worked a lot to try and build in some new protocols for how we travel, how we prepare the guys.”
Philadelphia won just two road games last season. They will open the 2011 campaign — on the road at Houston — on March 19th.
Reported by Matt Leon, KYW Newsradio 1060.MORE NEWS: Student At Coatesville Area Senior High School Stabbed 6 Times During Fight