The situation is not as dire as it seems, but earning a postseason berth won't be easy, either.
The Chicago Fire are fifth in the East with 31 points. The Union have 20 points, but they have played two fewer games than the Fire.
There is no doubt that the Union are a more confident team under Hackworth, with the players seemingly not as afraid to make mistakes.
Still, they do not have a big margin for error.
"We now have 16 more games and have to focus and try to win as many as possible because we have a lot of catching up to do," said Amobi Okugo, who has been a key performer on defense under Hackworth.
So the Union aren't deluding themselves. They understand this is a difficult task. The fact that they remain in the postseason picture is what should fuel the team.
"We have given ourselves an opportunity now," midfielder Brian Carroll said. "Now it's about what we do going forward here and getting more of the results down the stretch in the second half of the season."
In order to catch up, the Union must hold service at home, especially against teams directly ahead of them in the standings.
Which brings us to New England (6-9-5, 23 points). This is one of those games where anything less than three points would be unsatisfactory, especially since the Union have been better recently at home.
This season they are 4-4-1 at PPL Park, but have won their last three home MLS games.
The other thing they need is more consistent scoring. With 20 goals, the Union are ninth among the 10 Eastern Conference teams in scoring entering the weekend.
There is no doubt that this is a more confident unit than the one that was struggling under Nowak.
"We are more than capable," Carroll said.
Even in defeat lately the Union have been competitive, although they seemed to hit the wall in last Saturday's 2-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. The Union outplayed New York for most of the first half but trailed, 1-0, and then were clearly outplayed in the second half.
It must be noted that the Red Bulls are a serious MLS Cup contender, so losing to a great team in its building after a solid first-half showing doesn't automatically spell doom.
Yet the Union will have to steal a game or two from a top contender to surge back into the picture.
Hackworth talked about how the Union may have worn down in the loss to the Red Bulls. The Union had played six games in 18 days, which included one U.S. Open Cup game and another friendly.
The all-star break came at a good time. The Union should be refreshed and ready to make a second-half run. At this point the second half has meaning, which is more than would have been expected about a month ago.
Contact Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or email@example.com, or follow on Twitter @sjnard.