CHESTER, Pa. – Perhaps it’s because the Philadelphia Union are concluding a grueling four-games-in-12-day stretch when they host the Columbus Crew at PPL Park Wednesday night. (7:30 pm ET, MLS Live).
Or perhaps it’s because that with midfielders Kléberson (thigh) and Michael Lahoud (sports hernia) both likely out, the Union will have only 12 available field-position players who’ve played more than 10 minutes in league play this season.
Whatever the case may be, manager John Hackworth made a rare public admission ahead of Wednesday night's game vs. the Columbus Crew that his team needs some reinforcements, especially along the backline.
“We’re not totally satisfied,” Hackworth said. “We think we have some issues right now for sure in the back in terms of our depth. Is there a player out there we feel can come in and win a starting job potentially in the back? We’re certainly looking at that. We’re probably about two-to-three spots away on our roster from feeling like it’s the most complete roster we can have.”
The good news for Hackworth is he now has more cap space, roster spots and allocation money to work with following some of the club’s recent trades. And it appears likely the Union will utilize all of that during the summer transfer window.
“We have guys scouting full time for us,” the Union manager said. “We’re reviewing a lot of different players that are presented to us. And we’re coming up on the summer window where there are a lot of moves to be made and we’re certainly in a good spot to make some moves. But we have to make the right move for this club for sure.”
In the meantime, Hackworth said he’ll likely dig into his bench for Wednesday’s match vs. Columbus (4-4-5), which he called “massive” because of how close the two teams are in the Eastern Conference standings.
And despite the rigors of playing four games in 12 days, he thinks the Union (5-5-4) will be ready Wednesday night, no matter which players he puts out on the field.
“I don’t think we’re tired – at least from every metric we have to evaluate players,” Hackworth said. “Our players are doing a good job recovering and that starts with having a good foundation of conditioning to begin with. But we’re going to try to utilize a little bit of our depth and see if that makes a difference.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.