John Hackworth's second match in charge showed an immediate improvement in finishing for the Union.
Jack McInerney, making his second consecutive start under interim coach John Hackworth, netted a first-half brace in leading the Union to a 4-0 home victory over Sporting Kansas City, second in the East.
“Two starts and two goals – where I am right now, it just feels good,” said the hero of the evening, who hadn’t started under previous boss Peter Nowak this season.
Philly previewed the incisiveness and menace against D.C. United last week, but it -- and McInerney -- ended without a goal then. With the addition of some ruthless finishing, the result was drastically different against SKC, with McInerney opening his account in the first minute.
“What a great way for Jack to start the game,” said Hackworth. “And the work to get that goal – that’s exactly what we want.”
The poacher added another shortly before halftime, scoring off of a set piece. Once the floodgates were opened, the goal mouth seemed as wide as the ocean for the hosts. Supersub Antoine Hoppenot sparked two goals late in the match to ice an impressive display for the host side.
“I love coming in with 30 minutes left,” said Hoppenot. “It’s going to let me be isolated with one of their bigger center backs, who are going to have a tough time staying with me speed-wise.”
Hoppenot burned defenders to pick up a penalty and then added a delicate lob of his own, the sort of composed finish Hackworth says was missing earlier in the season.
“We had those chances last week and they didn’t fall for us, but tonight they did,” Hackworth said. “And the defensive effort on the other side was fantastic.”
The Union and Sporting, both quarterfinalists in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, will host matches on Tuesday night in that competition before returning to league play.
Sporting is visited by the Dayton Dutch Lions, of the third-tier USL Professional Division. Philadelphia faces off against the Harrisburg City Islanders, its affiliate club, also of the USL Professional Division.
If both MLS clubs win their U.S. Open Cup games, Sporting will find its way back to PPL Park on July 11 for a semifinal contest.
Follow BEN GOLDBERG-MORSE on