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  • Writer's pictureBenton

Farewell, Coach Hackworth

Photo Credit: Conner Cunningham
Photo Credit: Conner Cunningham

Around 10:30 AM today, Jeff Rueter of The Athletic broke the news that Coach John Hackworth and Louisville City FC had “mutually separated.”

Less than two hours later, the club confirmed his departure in a press release.

“Louisville City FC and head coach John Hackworth have mutually agreed to terminate Hackworth’s contract with the club."

As of this writing, this is the extent that is publically know of Coach Hackworth’s exit from the club. All of this coming one game into the 2021 regular season and, from a fan's perspective, out of the blue. With very minimal information provided by the club, one can only imagine the speculations being made. I will spare you of any uninformed guesses as to what may have transpired and the “whys” behind this change.

Coach Hackworth took the helm of the reigning USL champs amid the summer of 2018, following the departure of the beloved Coach O’Connor for Orlando City in the MLS and the interim triumvirate of three-player/coaches, George Davis IV, Paolo DelPiccolo, and Luke Spencer. He led the boys in purple to their second consecutive championship and another appearance in the finals the following year. In 78 games, he accumulated a record of 48-16-14 (62% win percentage). Coach Hackworth maintained the winning ways set by JOC and the LouCity front office. I found Coach Hackworth to be a top-notched coach and I wish him nothing but the best in the future. The success seen during his tenure will not be forgotten!

Stepping in as interim head coach will be Hack’s assistant manager, Danny Cruz. Coach Cruz is a MLS veteran having played for the likes of the Houston Dynamo, D.C. United, and the Philadelphia Union during his time in the league from 2009 to 2015. His professional career continued at Minnesota United, San Francisco Deltas, and Real Monarch between 2016 and 2017. In 2018, he began his coaching career with the Monarchs in 2018 but didn’t stay long as he later that year came to Louisville.

“I have a responsibility to that group in the locker room and to this club to continue the success that’s expected,” Cruz said. “I take a lot of pride in that, and I understand the importance of the opportunity.”

This continuity of management should, hopefully, minimize any adverse impacts to the squad. Coach Cruz was with Hack from the beginning and knows the team and how they have been coached as well as anyone. It is worth noting that Coach Cruz has a preferred formation. His love of the 3-5-2 came out late last season against St Louis FC (May they rest in peace).

"We rolled out Danny Cruz’s favorite formation finally. He’s been talking to me for years about trying to play a 3-5-2 and it just felt like tonight was the time.”

A back 3 formation was utilized in the preseason match again Pittsburgh so it’s not an impossible thought Coach Cruz will have the team refocus on this, especially given that LouCity’s next match is not for another 11 days.

As for Coach Hackworth’s permanent replacement, Mike Watts did confirm that Coach Cruz will have the opportunity to earn the job long term.

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