Keon Daniel has already departed for CONCACAF Gold Cup duty with the Trinidad and Tobago national team, and it seemingly could not come at a worse time for the Philadelphia Union.
The more immediate need for the Union is replacing Daniel, who enjoyed one of his best games of the season in Sunday’s 3-0 win over the New York Red Bulls. It was also his last game with Philly before he joined his Trinidadian teammates in preparation for the Gold Cup.
Trinidad and Tobago opens the tournament on July 8 against El Salvador at Red Bull Arena.
“Keon, I think has had probably his most consistent year as a professional at the highest level,” Hackworth said. “That’s great for him. And that’s great for us.
"Similar to Jack, when a player gets that honor of playing for a national team, having been on the flip side as a [US national team] coach, you want to honor those things. You have to deal with that and when you’re having success, you’re going to have more players called up. Keon is an example of that. We’ll do our best to get on without him.”
Before leaving, Keon expressed mixed emotions about his extended absence. He will miss at least the Union’s next four games and possibly more if Trinidad and Tobago make it out of Group B and into the knockout stage – which Daniel believes is a realistic possibility.
“I’m always happy to play for my country,” Daniel said. “I think it’s an honor for every player. We haven’t been in a tournament for a while and I think the whole team is eager to play in a tournament like this – a major tournament.
“It will be sad for me to miss [MLS] games because I love being here to help my teammates,” the Union midfielder added. “But life goes on and that’s why we are a team and not one player.”