When a team stumbles to the finish line and fails to make the MLS Cup playoffs, it’s only natural to think a coaching shakeup might be coming.
But three days after the Philadelphia Union closed the 2013 season in seventh place in the Eastern Conference after winning just twice in their final 10 games, Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz said he’s had “no thoughts” about cutting ties with manager John Hackworth.
In fact, despite Philly’s late-season slide down the standings, Sakiewcz praised the job Hackworth did in his first full season at the helm.
“No one is satisfied or happy about last weekend and getting knocked out of playoff contention,” Sakiewicz told MLSsoccer.com. “But if you step back and look at the season and take a look at where this team was 12 months ago, I think it’s been a much-improved team. I think John and the coaching staff did a lot with this team over the last 12 months.”
More than anything else, Sakiewicz was pleased with some of the moves Hackworth and the front office made to alleviate some of the salary-cap concerns that existed under the regime of former manager Peter Nowak, who was fired in the middle of the 2012 season.
And with that increased financial flexibility, Sakiewicz said bigger moves are on the horizon this offseason.
“With what John had to work with coming out of the Nowak roster and salary-cap situation, I think John and the guys did an excellent job getting us into a good position,” Sakiewicz said. “And even better, he made some moves during the season that put our salary cup situation in a good place. And the ownership is putting more resources to help add some very vital pieces for us for next year.
“We’ve got some money to spend to make some improvements and we’re going to do that.”
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When asked what specifically the Union need or where they plan to get it, Sakiewicz said that was all up to Hackworth, in whom he has complete trust to bring in the right pieces to push the Union to the level of elite MLS teams next year.
“We’ve invested heavily in our youth development system, which is one of the best in the league and which will produce some results long term,” Sakiewicz said. “And now it’s time to invest in the first team with some veteran quality players that can be added to this group of Union originals and really take us to another level.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.