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Philadelphia Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz backs John Hackworth, outlines desire for high-profile striker

For the first time in five games, a Philadelphia Union player scored from the run of play as Philly rode a rare multi-goal effort to a 2-1 upset win Wednesday over Sporting Kansas City.

But even though they ended the epic offensive drought – as well as the club-long nine-game winless streak – the Union remain heavily in the market for attacking reinforcements.

On Thursday, in a statement in which he also backed embattled manager John Hackworth and implored fans to stand behind the struggling team, Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz made the club’s immediate priority clear.

“I can tell you that as of today, we are very active scouring the marketplace to find and bring in attacking talent that can finish the large number of chances our vastly improved midfield is consistently creating during every game,” Sakiewicz said. “It is exceedingly frustrating to watch us outplay our opponents in just about every offensive category and have the record we have at this point in the season. It is simply not acceptable.”

Before leaving for Kansas City, Hackworth addressed what avenues the club would most likely pursue to acquire a high-profile striker. And he indicated that it might be difficult to “lure players away from other teams” in an MLS trade and that they probably don’t have a good enough allocation ranking (after using the top spot to bring in Maurice Edu in the offseason) to bring an American back from overseas.

That leaves the transfer window that opens in July as the best bet.

“The summer transfer window opening up, specifically in Europe, is a really good opportunity for us to go and maybe find a player that’s coming out of contract that is a quality player that we feel can make a difference there,” Hackworth said. “So we’re certainly doing our homework in all of those areas to try to find that player.”

As for the ideal player, Hackworth noted it needs to be someone who has a combination of speed and finishing ability – two things the Union have lacked.

“I certainly think our ability to stretch our opposition using just pure speed is an issue we have to address,” Hackworth said. “We have guys in the locker room that we feel can do that and they’ve been on the field enough so far this year, but they just haven’t been successful in that. So it’s certainly finding a player that has the ability to stretch a defense with speed but it also has to be a player that can be dangerous and execute in front of goal.”

And despite some fans calling for his head, it looks like it will be Hackworth who’s in charge of spearheading these moves as he attempts to lift the Union (2-5-5) back into playoff contention.

“We stand behind John Hackworth, each member of the technical staff and the players,” Sakiewicz said. “We are working every day with the resources available to us and are confident that with some additional key players this group can become the team we envision it to be.”

Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at djzeitlin@gmail.com.