Week 9 Training Report - Is it Time to Hit the Panic Button for Hartford Athletic?
With only one win, Hartford find themselves dead last in the USL Championship after eight games. Hear from Tab Ramos, Connor McGlynn and Richard Sánchez ahead of a pivotal trip to Pheonix on Saturday.
Just one week after a lackluster 2-0 loss at home to Memphis 901 FC capped off a 1-5-2 start to the season for Hartford Athletic, the Green and Blue are in desperate need of a result as they head to Pheonix Rising FC on Saturday.
Last weekend’s loss cemented Hartford’s place at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings with just five points through their opening eight games. Despite the slow start, Hartford still sits just four points outside the final playoff place, with a chance to build momentum ahead of a long stretch of home games in the month of June — a stretch that will prove vitally important to get a young season back on track.
“I think we realize it’s still very early in the season,'‘ Hartford midfielder Connor McGlynn said. “I’ve said it before, one game can completely turn the tide of our season. I think all it takes is one result, one win…We’ve seen this year more than any that any team can go on the road and get some wins, so I don’t see why we can’t do that.”
“Team morale, obviously given the results that we’ve had, hasn’t been great,” Hartford Goalkeeper Richard Sánchez added. “It’s lingering in the back of our heads, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t in tune with what we want, and the comradely is still there.”
Having given up five goals through their last two games, the absence of Niall Logue in the defense has proven to be a costly one. Logue was not included in the squad for their trip to Birmingham, and despite making the 18 vs. Memphis he did not appear off of the bench. However, Sánchez did not see this as a reason to be concerned, citing the team’s depth.
“Listen, everybody is important here, and whoever is called upon has to respond,” Sánchez said. “Obviously Niall has been a presence in the back for us, but that doesn’t mean that Robin [Lapert] who stepped in a couple of times, Tristan [Hodge] who had to step in there, Kaveh [Rad] and even Connor [McGlynn] sometimes, he stepped in there to to try to fill that role.”
Now, ahead of yet another road trip out west, Hartford faces a difficult challenge in a Pheonix Rising FC squad that has only lost once in their last five games. With the weather in Pheonix set to reach as high as 100 degrees, head coach Tab Ramos cited Saturday’s game as one that will test the Green and Blue’s depth on the road.
“They have some good pieces, Pheonix is a good team,” Ramos said. “They attack well, they dominate possession fairly well. So as long as we stay compact, I still think that we have an opportunity to catch them on the counter…I think we’re gonna likely be a little more conservative in the begging than we’ve been in all these games, more like I said because of the weather, because we have to get our guys to last 90 minutes.”
Hartford’s depth will be especially thin due to the continued injuries in the midfield, but Ramos still favors Hartford’s chances.
“Not having Elvis [Amoh] up front for us is a big loss at this point, not having Kembo [Kibato] in the midfield is another big loss, so we’re a little bit thin. We have to get our guys to last 90 minutes. Other than that, I think I’m confident that the team can do well.”
According to Ramos, the timeline for the return of Amoh, who he regards as the team’s “scorer,” is set for at least another two or three weeks. He was active throughout training this week, participating in light individual drills on the road to recovery.
Finally, Tab Ramos discussed the moments that have killed Hartford this season — conceding late goals. Having let in two stoppage-time goals off of set pieces in their last three road games that have resulted in them walking away empty-handed, Ramos says that they ultimately came down to individual defending in the box.
“It’s certainly worrying, because it didn't just happen once,” Ramos said “That’s five or six points right there that we could have had added at this point that would potentially put us above the playoff line…We feel like we’ve planned for those moments, unfortunately we’ve given up goals, two of them were on set pieces…in those moments you just have to defend better. We’re prepared for the moments, we just individually have to do better.”
For Hartford, the next few weeks are all about building momentum to right the ship as they approach a vital summer stretch — beginning with a late 10:30 p.m. ET kickoff against Pheonix Rising FC on Saturday.