With 1 spot open, Union shopping for roster help

With 1 spot open, Union shopping for roster help
July 10, 2013, 2:30 pm

With the summer transfer window now open in MLS, teams around the league are shopping with intent to buy. And while the Union are one of those teams, their list only has one name on it.

“We do have an opportunity here,” said Union coach John Hackworth, who has hinted to want help on the left side of the field as well as on defense. “We’re actively trying to pursue a couple players. But we really have one spot available and it has to be the right player for our team, it has to be a player we’ve gone out and targeted and I can’t say much more than that. We hope we can make that announcement and acquire that player soon. If not, we’re not going to pick up another player just to add them to the roster.”

Recently, the Union acquired 39-year-old goalkeeper Oka Nikolov, who has been actively pushing Zac MacMath for the starting spot. In doing so, Hackworth got exactly what he wanted and the team needed -- more focus and production from MacMath, who has made 10 saves in his last three games.

“He’s in a really good place right now and it’s probably the best we’ve seen him,” said the coach. “He kept us in the Salt Lake game. We’re happy with where he is and it’s good to see him step his game up.

“Oka is coming off a layoff, so he needs time to get adjusted to the weather. For Zac, he knows what he has to do and will do it to the best of his ability and that’s been good.”

The Union also acquired left back Fabio Alves to push Ray Gaddis. Both Alves and Nikolov are getting acclimated with their new surroundings and their availability is unknown for Friday at PPL Park against Chivas USA.

“As with anyone we bring in, they are battling other players on the roster,” said Hackworth. “We don’t want to rush a guy but at the same time, if he’s ready and done it in training, he has a chance. We’re happy with where they are but haven’t made the final decision on either one.”

Torres remains off Hackworth's radar

Coming on late to play 19 minutes against the Houston Dynamo last Saturday, Roger Torres earned his long-awaited shot to impress Hackworth.

But Hackworth still couldn’t be moved.

“We like Roger, he’s here for a reason but he’s not playing for a reason as well,” said Hackworth. There are other guys who have continued to stay ahead of him. Roger understands that. When he gets an opportunity like in Houston, he needs to make the most of it. We’ve had several discussions with the staff and Roger.”

Playing just 37 minutes in all of 2013, Torres has been caught somewhere between the doghouse and roster no-man’s land. Buried behind Keon Daniel, Jose Kleberson, Michael Farfan and Leo Fernandes on the depth chart, Torres had little shot of seeing significant playing time until Saturday, when the roster opened up.

With Danny Cruz, Farfan and Kleberson injured, and Daniel gone on Gold Cup duty, Torres made the field. And though he appeared to change the game for the Union with energy and an aggressive attacking mentality, Hackworth made it clear Torres is more than 20 strong game minutes from earning a significant starting shot.

“He’s a young guy we believe in and want him to be successful here,” said Hackworth. “A lot of that has to do with Roger and what he does on and off the field.”

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