John Hackworth's Substitutions Key to Philadelphia Union's Victory over Vancouver Whitecaps

By Phil Naegely
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

After going up a man early and some uninspired play in the remainder of the first half, all eyes were on who Philadelphia Union head coach John Hackworth was going to sub on

Sometimes this season, he has made some questionable substitutions, but tonight his substitutions were spot on. Aaron Wheeler and Antoine Hoppenot were key to the game-winning goal.

With Hoppenot coming on for Danny Cruz in the 66th minute, and Wheeler replacing Jack McInerney in the 81st minute, Hackworth and crew were aggressively going for three points and the road victory. Hoppenot’s speed would punish a man down Whitecaps squad, and Wheeler’s height provided another threat in the box.

While I can’t argue with Hackworth moving Sebastien Le Toux up front to replace a suspended Connor Casey, Wheeler could have started the game. However, at this point it doesn’t really matter as Wheeler played an integral part in the Union’s success Saturday.

Off a counter-attack, Wheeler obtained the ball near the top of the box and nicely sent a back heel pass to Hoppenot, who accurately drilled the ball into the back of the net. Hoppenot’s goal and Wheeler’s nice passing held on as the game-winner.

The Union’s victory was not pretty, but Hackworth substitutions came at the right moment and he subbed on and replaced the right people Saturday. Because of that, the Union maintain fourth place in the Eastern Conference, only trail first place Sporting Kansas City by two points, and dealt the Vancouver Whitecaps their first home defeat this season.

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