Hackworth presser, April 23
On facing Jack McInerney: It’s going to be interesting. I know personally I’ll look forward to seeing him. There’s no ill will between us. In this game in particular, our whole goal will be to deny not only Jack but (Marco) Di Vaio and the rest of their attacking players the time and space they need to do what they do best, and he’s an opponent right now. But I’m sure after the game we’ll have a word and wish him well until we see him next time when he’s the enemy again."
On fixing wastefulness in front of goal:
All we can do is continue to train and do a lot of reps and train on those specific areas, both in how we attack the goal area and execute in front of it. There’s different aspects where we feel we did a good job in past games, and clearly if we look back to Saturday, we didn’t execute those moments. Some of them, we didn’t even get opportunities in terms of shots or shots on goal, but had some relay good plays there. We’re trying to make sure our guys know we want them to take those opportunities, then it comes down to execution. We’re trying to put numbers in dangerous spots and have good reactions to anything that happens in the box. When you look back at the game Saturday, we were really unlucky not to have scored a goal or two.
On the Union's point accumulation through the early season:
Obviously, we are not happy with where we are in the standings right now. We legitimately feel as though we should’ve won five of our eight games for sure at a minimum. However, you can’t take away your opponents and the game of soccer itself is just not that predictable in terms of where you play well and you get opportunities. That’s why it’s sometimes so amazing and frustrating and why people are so passionate about it. What I will say though is that within our team, we’re very confident about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. And my experiences as a coach is that the more you continue to play that way, the chances will turn. The tide will turn and we will see the results start to come our way. We’ve been doing a lot as a staff trying to analyze where we were successful and where we weren’t, where our opponents have gotten the better of us. The metrics that we look at, it’s pretty astounding the way we’ve played these eight games in terms of just putting the ball in a dangerous area. I think there’s a stat out there that a lot of people look at in soccer, and I don’t think it’s a good win. It’s shots, or shots on goal. It’s a terrible stat in soccer. I think the more important stat is how many penalty-area entries you get or how many final-third entries you have, how many successful passes you have, how many of those are forward. When you break down those metrics, we’ve been a really, really good team. Our thought is that we just need to continue to do that, and at the end of the day, at the end of the season, we’re going to be on the good side of that and it’s going to come out in our favor.
On Vincent Nogueira's early-season performance:
I think Vincent is a guy that in all of our scouting of him, we thought would come into this league and be the kind of player that he’s showing. That said, Vincent I think can do even better. He does a ton of work. I think he went 29 out of 30 successful passes in the second half against Houston. I think he was around 96 percent success rate for the whole game, which is a pretty impressive stat. … We have guys in the midfield, and Vincent is a catalyst for that, who are doing some good things. We just need to make that translate into taking some of that possession and taking some of that positive ball movement and translate that into better scoring opportunities for us.
On Andrew Wenger's early impact:
It’s still early, but we feel really good about Andrew and his performances. He was unlucky not to have a goal, and he was really hard on himself postgame to the point that we talked afterward on the field when he was coming down form the club, and he was like, ‘look coach, I know I should’ve finished one of those.’ And I said, ‘Andrew, just stay positive. You’re going to get a lot more of those opportunities, and I have complete confidence that you’re going to bury them.’ That’s what’s most important. The work is good. He’s putting himself in good positions. He’s fitting into our system of play really well. He’s got a great attitude about those things. I think you’ll see some good things coming out of him going forward.
On putting together the attacking pieces:
I think we’re still a little bit of a work in progress. We need to execute better and we need to share the responsibility a little bit more with our front five to six players. I think guys have been looking to provide the next to last pass more than they have to take it themselves so that. Again we’re working on those things in training. We’re trying to urge whoever gets that chance to take it, because I think once we turn that corner, I think you’ll see some of those goals starting to fall.
On interchanging between wings:
Probably not as much as we saw in the first half against Houston. What the situation is, Maidana like to switch it up. He likes to have the ability to come in from the right-hand side an d put the ball on his left foot. That’s something we have done since he arrived here. We did it through preseason. Sebastien is comfortable enough and covers enough ground that he has no problem in-game when, for instance, if one of them is taking a corner kick on the opposite side, rather than go back to the other side of the field, they just recover to the near side. That in general can give our opponents a difficult time because it’s easier as a defender to say, ‘OK, this is the guy I’m matching up against. These are his tendencies. This is what I see.’ And when you have two different types of guys running at you, it does unbalance you. The balancing out is not doing it so much that it doesn’t take away from your overall structure. We do need to improve that. It’s something we’ve talked about this week, maybe even starting Maidana on the right-hand side from the start with whoever is going to play on the left so that we have a little more continuity that way.