Hackworth's Awkward "Final Whistle" Adu Comment Prompts Questions

Winslow Townson

More questions were created than answered by John Hackworth's Freddy Adu stumble in the latest "Final Whistle."

The movement away from the curiously Soviet-esque style of information management by the Philadelphia Union has provided insight into the team never dreamed of prior to the dismissal of former head coach Peter Nowak.

A combination of a branding rebirth under John Hackworth - whose ascension from assistant coach to interim head coach and now permanent head coach and team director has given the Union a new lease on public relations - and the hiring of former Daily News beat reporter Kerith Gabriel, to head the usage of social media and the direction of the team's official site's content, has produced something unheard of just a few months ago.

This change in emphasis on public disclosure of facts, a large amount of which was previously held tightly by the franchise as a version of sports state secrets, has come in a few different forms, the most notable of which was the decision to have Hackworth write an email every so often to fans.

For the Union, this endeavor has become both a blessing and a curse. As evidenced by the reaction to portions of today's "Final Whistle," an informed fan base can create a better situation for a team's public relations stand point, while also leaving the club open to those seeking out a resolution to unanswered questions.

While Hackworth won praise on Twitter and Facebook for his utilization of the moniker "Pink Cows" for the New York Red Bulls, it was his statement about a player on the team that drew the most interest out of the email.

"We made the decision to leave Freddy out of the 18," Hackworth wrote, "and to rest Sheanon [Williams] in hopes that he'll be recovered enough to play Saturday against New York."

It was already known that Adu was left out due to a coach's decision against Sporting Kansas City. However, Hackworth's choice to not only mention it, but also place it next to a comment about why Williams didn't play was intriguing to read.

Just like the second half of the statement, the first provided the team's decision, but it noticeably lacked the reasoning behind it. Placed up against the second half of the sentence, which filled in why Michael Lahoud was pressed into service at left back versus Kansas City, the Adu comment was incredibly limited in the scope of the overall email's intent to inform.

Transparency was something thought to be slowly moving throughout the organization at multiple levels, but the withholding of reasons for why the team's highest paid player, and who may be the best playmaker, did not participate in a game leaves a confused end result for those that follow or cover the team.

This especially holds true when Adu was a coach's decision, but Williams was rested by the team. Not even a comment so simplistic as that was given for Adu.

Prior to, and following this attempt to almost try to toss in Adu as a throwaway line, was an immense amount of information about injured players for the Sporting and Dynamo games. Explanations concerning Chris Albright, Danny Cruz, Gabriel Farfan, Zach Pfeffer and Williams all littered the email.

Hackworth went so far as to release that it was Cruz who accidentally injured Williams in a training tackle, while also naming a sinus infection as the reason for why Albright wasn't completely healthy for Kansas City.

Additionally, Hackworth talked previously, under the section in regard to the loss in Houston, about moving Adu around tactically to handle the field dimensions of BBVA Compass Stadium. Then nothing to explain his invisibility for the next game.

The question of 'why' has remained the most consistent theme of the last year for the Union. From a tumultuous off-season without any answers, to the situation with Adu now, 'why' has played the role of a dangling participle waiting for inclusion in a well constructed sentence.

Inquiring minds will always want to know. Ambiguity won't stop the quest for knowledge.

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