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John Hackworth Emphasizes the Purpose of MLS Preseason, It’s Not About Winnning

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Union team manager John Hackworth re-emphasized the purpose of the preseason to him and the rest of the technical staff during a press conference on Thursday. Yesterday, the Union had the younger guys play against an experienced Columbus Crew squad. Ultimately they fell 4-0.

After yesterday’s performance and match, many fans were questioning Hackworth’s purpose of the preseason games. Hackworth clarified today during a press conference the purpose of the preseason matches to the Union’s technical staff.

“Very specifically we want to give every guy here an opportunity and in our periodization plan, we build up the number of minutes each player is getting in these games. So that you are going at this point from a guy that can play 60 minutes to a guy that can play 75 minutes to a guy that can play 90 minutes; and it’s not just playing it, it’s playing it at the right intensity and at the right level.”

Hackworth went on to compare the record in the preseason to the overall success of the team during the regular season.  Just like in the National Football League, Major League Soccer‘s preseason–while important and having a purpose–is not all about winning.  The games are more used by the coaches to evaluate the players based off of actual game situations.

“The results don’t matter at all, it’s preseason. Look you guys are the sports writers, I haven’t done the research but I don’t know that the Baltimore Ravens went undefeated in preseason, I don’t know how the San Francisco 49ers went in preseason…these games don’t mean anything, they are evaluation tools for the staff so that when we get to real games we’re prepared.”

Just to make a point, the Philadelphia Eagles went 4-0 in the preseason and we all know how their season ended. To do the research Hackworth did not, the Baltimore Ravens went 2-2, while the San Francisco 49ers finished the preseason 3-1.

While preseason is important, we must remember that it is not important because of winning. It is about getting into shape and creating the “best squad” to give the team the greatest chance to succeed.