CHESTER, Pa. – John Hackworth calls it “Philly tough.”
It’s a mantra he wants his Philadelphia Union team to abide by.
And that’s exactly what he thinks they did over the past two weeks as they grinded out two less-than-pretty wins in less-than-desirable weather conditions.
“I’m not going to lie to you – my feet are frozen right now,” the Union manager said following the Union’s 1-0 victory over New England on Saturday at a cold, rainy and windy PPL Park. “That’s two weeks in a row. And through the preseason, except when we were in Florida, we battled through crazy conditions. But the guys have adapted to it. We’ve talked a lot about being Philly tough. And we’re starting to show that we are Philly tough.”
Hackworth admitted the earlier start to the MLS season is not something he especially loves, especially when it messes up travel plans – as it did last week when the Union’s game against Colorado was delayed for 24 hours because of a blizzard.
But the Union still emerged victorious in Colorado, so he’s not arguing with the results.
“Right now, I’m happy about it because I’m sitting on six points after three games,” Hackworth said. “So I’m not going to complain about the weather, although my toes are still frozen. I will say, in talking with other coaches around the league, it’s hard for everybody. It affects how you train. It affects your preparation. It affects some of the quality of play out there.”
It hasn’t seemed to affect the Union players too much.
While most of them will admit their wins over Colorado and New England didn’t constitute pretty soccer, they still enjoyed running around in the freezing rain. Fullback Sheanon Williams called it “fun” and center back Amobi Okugo joked that “hopefully we can keep getting bad weather if we’re going to keep getting wins.”
And defender Jeff Parke, who perhaps embodies “Philly tough” more than anybody else on the team, thinks the team’s success in bad weather is a good omen of things to come.
“We’re grinding it out and that’s what good teams do,” Parke said. “Teams that aren’t so good are the ones that lose games like this.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.