CHESTER, PA. – Shortly after a mostly uneventful game at PPL Park wrapped up, Philadelphia Union interim manager John Hackworth made it an eventful postgame press conference.
He even channeled his inner Rodney Dangerfield for the occasion.
“I don’t think right now,” Hackworth said, “the Philadelphia Union are getting the respect we deserve.”
Hackworth’s comments following Friday night’s scoreless draw with visiting Real Salt Lake stemmed from a question about the Union getting into altercations the past two weeks.
HIGHLIGHTS: PHI 0, RSL 0
The Union manager scoffed at the idea his players were to blame for the aggressive behavior, focusing instead on how playmaker Michael Farfan is not the beneficiary of nearly enough calls.
“If you look at the last two games, is it our fault?” Hackworth said. “Because I actually think our guys showed class and showed expert experience in not getting caught up in that stuff. I don’t even think it was remotely our fault. I think Michael Farfan should be given a lot of credit for being an attacking player in this league and I don’t think he gets any of it….
“If [Javier] Morales, who I think is absolutely one of the best players in the league, can get that respect, Michael Farfan deserves it too.”
Friday’s dust-up came after Farfan was taken down hard by RSL’s Chris Wingert in the 58th minute and then kicked Wingert off him. Both were shown yellows, although Farfan said afterwards that he thought Wingert deserved a red because he came in cleats up.
As for whether Farfan deserves more respect from the refs, the second-year midfielder declined to elaborate on Hackworth’s comment.
“I can’t really change what the refs do,” Farfan said. “I don’t think anyone can. So I think I just keep my mouth shot and keep on playing.”
One thing is for certain: Farfan has quickly emerged as the engine that makes the Union purr and arguably their most important player.
He set up Philly’s best scoring chance late in the first half when he danced around a couple of defenders, and helped the Union do well to control the center of the pitch against an RSL midfield that Hackworth one of the best in MLS.
Hackworth said he was proud at how well the Farfan-led midfield dictated tempo and won the possession battle against the Western Conference power. But he also lamented Philly’s inability to put away chances and how his team might be perceived.
“We’re a good team,” Hackworth said. “We play good soccer. We try to play the ball on the ground. We have skillful players. That, for me, means when other teams foul us hard and little things happen when you have altercations, my opinion is the league wants that. And, at some point, we should start getting some recognition for that.”