Soccer / Sports

Union manager Hackworth fired by MLS club

PHILADELPHIA -- A year after leading the Philadelphia Union to a franchise-record 12 wins, manager John Hackworth was fired Tuesday.

Assistant coach Jim Curtin was named interim team manager. Curtin is the third manager in the Union's five-year history.

When contacted by The Inquirer, Hackworth declined comment.

Less than a month ago, Union CEO and operating partner Nick Sakiewicz said that management was clearly behind Hackworth.

The Union's inability to defend, while being inconsistent on offense, appeared to be Hackworth's undoing. This season the Union have allowed 27 goals, the second most in Major League Soccer. The Union have scored 22 goals, tied for the most in the 10-team Eastern Conference.

A 3-3 tie at home on Saturday against Vancouver was a microcosm of the team's defensive struggles. That dropped the Union's record to 3-7-6 for 15 points.

By making a change, the Union are not giving up on this season. Even though they have played 16 games, which is tied for the most in MLS, the Union stand just three points out of the fifth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot. MLS teams play 34 games.

Hackworth took over as interim manager on June 13, 2012 for the franchise's first coach Peter Nowak.

Last year in his first full season, Hackworth led the Union to 12-12-10 record and while in playoff contention late in the season, they didn't qualify.

In the first four years, the Union has quailed for the postseason just once, during their second season in 2011.

Hackworth's record was 23-30-20.

The 34-year-old Curtin is a Villanova product who was an all-star defender for the Chicago Fire in 2004. He was hired this season as an assistant after spending the previous three years working with the Union Academy.

"Today we will begin a serious global search for a Team Manager who will help guide us to our goal of competing to win the MLS Cup," Sakiewicz said in a statement released by the team. "Philadelphia is a major market and we expect that there will be significant interest from a wide variety of qualified candidates to become Philadelphia Union's Team Manager. Our great fans, partners and community deserve a winning team and we will do everything in our power to win. We appreciate the work, time and efforts John Hackworth put into building the club and his influence on our growing youth academy. He is a first class person and we wish him the best in his future endeavors."

(c)2014 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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