Fatigue, injury force Union's Hackworth to juggle lineup

Hackworth NEvPHI

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CHESTER, Pa. – When the Philadelphia Union face the New England Revolution on Saturday at Gillette Stadium (7:30 pm ET; watch on MLS LIVE), a couple of Philly’s more untested players may get a chance to take the field.

But it’s not because John Hackworth is looking toward the future in what will be his first game since being named permanent manager – as well as his first game since he officially declared Philly’s playoff hopes dead for 2012.

He has a different reason.

“I would expect we would see some new faces – but only because we’re playing our third game in a little over a week,” Hackworth told MLSsoccer.com. “That’s an awful lot to ask a lot of players to go through.”

Hackworth did not say specifically who might get the opportunity to earn some minutes but noted that it probably wouldn’t be anything “groundbreaking.” The club’s regulars, after all, are still eager for a little bit of redemption after Philly’s heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Columbus on Wednesday.

Those regulars includes captain and all-star Carlos Valdés, who left the Columbus game with a hamstring injury but, according to Hackworth, had a “very positive evaluation” with the medical staff Thursday and could be available for selection vs. the Revs despite the short turnaround.

“I think this team still has a lot of fight in them, a lot of spirit in them and a lot of pride,” Hackworth said. “And I think we don’t want to take that away. If the staff starts tinkering with too much of the lineup, especially in a short turnaround, I don’t think that’s the right way to handle it.”

That said, Hackworth admitted he may begin to do some more tinkering over the final few games of the season as he begins to plot out next year's roster. It just won't happen right away.

“I think with some of the players, as we go through the next couple of months, it’s important that we have some very honest conversations about where they are and where they stand and what their options are going forward,” Hackworth said. “Especially now that it looks like we’re not playing for a playoff spot, we’re really playing to get this team ready for next year and to finish on a strong note.”

Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at djzeitlin@gmail.com