Despite the addition of veteran goalkeeper Oka Nikolov, Philadelphia Union head coach John Hackworth was adamant in his weekly press conference that Zac MacMath will retain his starting role in net.
"Zac [MacMath] is absolutely, 100 percent still the starter," Hackworth said today in response to questions about newly signed Oka Nikolov's role with Philadelphia.
Hackworth made it clear that he would not mess with MacMath's current status as starting goalkeeper unless another player forced his way into the lineup. That statement included Nikolov.
"He has to prove himself," Hackworth said to reporters at the presser. "You guys can look at the way we've handled other acquisitions. We know his value, his leadership and his experience... we want him to push things. We expect the level of competition for playing time will be increased."
Nikolov was originally thought to have been acquired to not only push Zac MacMath and Chris Konopka, his backup, but also to compete for the starting job. Hackworth hit out at that speculation, saying instead that Nikolov was brought into Philadelphia to mentor the team's impressionable goalkeeping crew.
"The reality is that he's coming here to be a mentor to our young goalkeepers," Hackworth said. "The reason he's coming here is to share that experience and leadership he has."
For the time being, that is until at least July 12, the first game Nikolov will be available for, MacMath will remain the starter and Konopka his backup.