"[Adu] said he could have contributed longer, and I said, 'I need you to contribute the way you did [against United] every game,' " Hackworth said.
A lot is expected of Adu from the fans - and certainly from his coach. Hackworth was blunt when talking about Adu's performance the previous week in a 3-1 loss to the visiting Chicago Fire.
"I am encouraged that Freddy played much better against D.C. than the week before," Hackworth said.
Hackworth added, "If he can continue to do that, it puts us in a much better position."
So nobody is going to get a free pass from Hackworth. Minutes aren't guaranteed, and that's the way it should be.
The situation with Adu is difficult. Not only is he the team's highest-profile player, he is one of the few willing to take on defenders one-on-one and beat them.
Does he dribble too much at times?
But too many Union players, when they get in an attacking mode, decide to pass the ball back to a teammate rather than take on a defender.
That's why the Union have not finished scoring chances with frequency. They have scored just 24 goals, the lowest total in the Eastern Conference.
Yet Hackworth is a stickler for defense, as are most soccer coaches. And even though Adu saved a potential goal by backing up the play and heading out a shot by United, defense isn't his calling card.
In his last five starts, Adu has been pulled before the game ended. To his credit, he answered questions honestly but did not pop off about his reduced time.
"At the end of the day, he is the coach and makes changes based on what he sees," Adu said. "I may not agree, but I have to respect the decision because he is the coach."
Then the two talked it over on the long bus ride home.
Some may feel Hackworth is easier on his players than Nowak, but that may not be the case. It's just that Hackworth isn't as loud with them. Yet he appears to be firm.
Adu has three goals and one assist in 17 games, including 16 starts. The Union need greater production. Adu would argue that he can't score while he is on the bench.
The common ground is that both Hackworth and Adu want to win for a team struggling to stay in playoff contention.
At this point, both really need each other. The question is whether it will be for a full 90 minutes in Friday's home matchup with Real Salt Lake.
Barcelona beats Real. Pedro Rodriguez, Lionel Messi, and Xavi Hernandez scored as Barcelona rallied past Real Madrid, 3-2, in Thursday's first leg of the Spanish Super Cup.
Contact Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @sjnard on Twitter. This article contains information from the Associated Press.