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Posts Tagged ‘Peter Nowak’

Soccer is a business.  And like most businesses, it’s about results.  More wins lead to more points lead to more fans lead to more revenue.  I can understand this.  Romanticism makes way to pragmatism.  I can understand that.  Last year’s side didn’t always get the results.  However, the 2010 Philadelphia Union were very much an un-MLS side.  They created little triangles all over the field.  They kept the ball on the deck.  They passed their way out of danger.  In short, they played attractive soccer.  They created chances and with the help of Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Mwanga, even finished some.  Sure, at times they looked completely inept in the back and Seitzy made more than his fair share of howlers, but they were mostly entertaining.  Doop 2.0 on the other hand, so far, not so much.

I know, I know…they were away and three points on the road surely can’t be cause for complaint.  But am I the only one thoroughly underwhelmed and left wanting more?  I was greatly encouraged in the offseason by the signing of Columbus Crew midfielder, Brian Carroll, a player with a big engine and a wealth of MLS experience.  However, after week one I can’t help but wonder if this is just another player in the Miglioranzi mold- a guy who looks great passing the ball backwards and sideways but never really scares anyone going forward.  If Barcelona v. Inter last year in the Champions League taught us anything it’s that possession without penetration is just masturbation.  Setting up with two holding midfielders seems to be the modus operandi of Piotr Nowak.  Against the Houston Dynamo, the Union effectively employed three with the aforementioned Carroll and Migs joining Kyle Nakazawa in the center of the park.  With Mapp failing to get any chalk on his boots and tucking inside, the center of midfield was hopelessly clogged.  El Pescadito, admittedly much fitter than the last time he appeared on these shores, didn’t have the dynamism required to sufficiently trouble Houston’s back line.  With the superb Brad Davis keeping Sheanon Williams in check all evening, the Union were nonexistent in the final third.

The introduction of Danny Mwanga on the hour mark and a tactical shift from the manager injected a bit more life into the game but failed to result in any meaningful chances.  It was a bit more adventurous from Nowak but what about all the preseason talk of allowing players to express themselves?  The quote about wanting his players to not be afraid to “dribble out of trouble”?  It was a cluserf*ck in midfield, an aging relic spearheading the attack and a fortuitous goal off a long throw.  Where is the fantasy?  The spectacle?  Yes, it’s a results business but it’s also an entertainment business.  The two players I will always pay to see play are Xavi Hernandez and Paul Scholes.  Sure, nothing gets the pulses racing like Lionel Messi carving up defenders on labyrinthine run or gets you out of your seat like that Wayne Rooney overhead kick against City; but for me it’s the the sheer class and elegance of a deep-lying playmaker, a maestro pulling the strings, picking out the pass that no one else sees that makes the beautiful game just that.  Where is he in the Union side?  Exiled to the bench.  His name is Roger Torres.

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When the MLS and the Players Union meet this week to resume contract negotiations they will be joined by George H. Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. ESPN discusses this possible “glimmer of hope.”

Peter Nowak discusses the upcoming third stage of pre-season training. Focusing on tactics, the third stage will include the Union’s first game against MLS opposition when they play FC Dallas on Sunday in Tampa.

Michael Orozco discusses how motivated he is to play for the Union.

Philadelphia Magazine asks if soccer can save Chester.

A Manchester City blog speculates on possible interest in the Union from City’s owners. Emphasis on ‘speculates’.

Independence goalkeeper Mallori Lofton-Malachi played her high school soccer at Central.

The Independence announces its preseason roster. US national team members who were in Portugal for the Algarve Cup will start training with the team today. In a controlled scrimmage on Sunday, the Independence lost 1-2 to Rutgers.

The Daily News talks with Independence goalie Mallori Lofton-Malachi, who grew up in Philadelphia.

The Independence partner with the Delaware Youth Soccer Association.

The Drexel women’s soccer team signs eight new players.

Following his terrific home finale at Goodison Park, rumors emerge that Chelsea is interested in acquiring Landon Donovan over the summer for £10m. The report says that Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti “believes Donovan would fit perfectly into a front three with Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka.” Crikey!

ESPN has announced its television commentators for the World Cup. J. P. Dellacamera and John Harkes are out, to be replaced by veteran English commentators Ian Darke, Adrian Healey, Derek Rae and Martin Tyler. Dellacamera, who will call Union games this season, will still announce the World Cup games on ESPN radio where he will be joined by, shudder, Tommy Smith.

The Guardian reports that sources claim that  Sir Alex Ferguson is supportive of the Red Knights, the consortium that is attempting to buy Manchester United from the Glazers.

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“Hang this (jersey) on your wall and remind your players that we don’t want any more of your players going to D.C.” -- Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz

The Harrisburg Patriot-News has more on the Union’s partnership with the USL-2 Harrisburg City Islanders here and here.  (And no, we’re not just linking there because they gave us a great shout-out. But … it didn’t hurt.) You can also see some City Islanders videos here.

Great quote from Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz to City Islanders owner Eric Pettis, in reference to last year’s USL-2 rookie of the year, Tiyi Shipalane, moving to D.C. United: “Hang this [jersey] on your wall and remind your players that we don’t want any more of your players going to D.C.”

Major League Soccer delayed required roster cutdowns Monday because of ongoing labor negotiations.  Rosters were supposed to be down to 24 players yesterday, which includes 20 senior roster players and four on the developmental roster.

Philadelphia Union manager Peter Nowak says that he hasn’t settled on a lineup yet, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

(U.S. men’s and women’s national teams news after the jump.) (more…)

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Shea Salinas, on the move vs. UNC

What did we learn from Philadelphia Union’s match against the University of North Carolina? A few things. (Not nearly as much as if I was actually there, instead of dodging three feet of snow, but I digress.)

The Union are much better than a good college team.

Yay! No, really. That may not seem like a big deal, considering the massive wins other MLS teams got in friendlies against colleges. (FC Dallas 7-1 over University of Tulsa? Ouch.) But before Saturday’s 5-0 win, let’s be honest: We just couldn’t know. You could hope, you could say they looked good on paper, but the Union hadn’t played anyone out in the open. UNC is a national title contender. That counts for something. The Union did what they were supposed to do.

Sebastien Le Toux can score.

Well, we know he can do it in USL, and now we know he can do it against college players after Saturday’s hat trick. Will he do it in MLS? He netted just once last year for the Sounders in his first MLS season, when he spent a lot of time at midfield. Given more time up top, maybe he can pair with Moreno so that rookie Danny Mwanga only has to ease into action.

Temple University’s J.T. Noone could make the team.

Noone made the trip and got playing time Saturday. We wrote a few weeks ago about his joining the Union, and it looks like he has a legitimate shot to make the team. If so, he might be the only local guy who does. (Drexel’s Dan Zajac apparently made the trip too, though it’s not clear if he played.) The Union have 20 players listed on their roster, and they get another four developmental roster slots as part of their final 24-man roster, all of whom are eligible for league play.

Get used to seeing Alejandro Moreno hit the deck.

The Venezuelan forward is known as a diver, but sometimes, he really does earn those penalties, like the one he drew Saturday that led to the first goal. That’s important to have on a team.

Videos and more after the jump.

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1 down, 10 to go: Landycakes hands Ashley Cole a beatdown.

MLS officials and players agreed to extend collective bargaining negotiations until Feb. 25 due to massive snowfall.

Can Union manager Peter Nowak match Sigi Schmid and Bob Bradley for best expansion team results? Soccer America asks the question all Union fans want to know. Naturally, they don’t really answer it.

The Daily News has a story on Union defender Michael Orozco.

The National Soccer Hall of Fame is closing in Oneonta, N.Y.

Chelsea and England defender Ashley Cole is out three months after Landon Donovan broke his ankle. The Washington Post rounds up English scribes’ praise for Donovan’s excellent play in Everton’s win over Chelsea.

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MLS labor negotiations postponed due to snow storm.

The Daily News reports on double duty for Orozco and Nowak’s fine-tooth comb.

MLSnet reports on building team spirit and the role of veterans in establishing leadership on the Union squad.

Landon Donovan gets assist and earns penalty kick in Everton’s 2-1 victory over first place Chelsea.

The U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame and Museum is closing its building and transferring its collections and archives as it makes the “transition into a new and more sustainable operating model.”

Fox will broadcast the Champions League final. Taking place on a Saturday for the first time since the founding of the competition in 1955-56 as the Champions Clubs Cup, the final was originally scheduled to air on FX.

Manchester United mortgaged Old Trafford and club’s training ground to back recent £504m bond sale.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter claims alleged John Terry affair would be applauded in “Latin countries.” Meanwhile, as the world turns, Terry is off to Dubai to try to patch things up with his wife and kids and will miss Chelsea’s FA Cup tie this weekend.

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Danny Califf sports a mohawk at Union camp

Philadelphia Union will head to Guadalajara, Mexico, for a one-week training session later this month. Let’s see if the snow follows them there like it has to Greensboro, N.C.

Union manager Peter Nowak tells the Inquirer he plans to tailor his system to the players, not vice versa. Does that mean farewell to the 3-5-2 for a while?

Union defender Shavar Thomas is off to join the Jamaican national team for its friendly Wednesday against Argentina.

The NASL-USL released their 2010 schedule yesterday. Here’s the logo the combined Division 2 league will be using this year, courtesy of Dr. Frankenstein.

Want to buy an English soccer team? There’s an ad in today’s Financial Times for the sale of Crystal Palace, who play in England’s second division.

The EPL’s bottom eight teams have won a combined eight of their last 82 matches, the London Guardian notes. Score one for MLS and league balance. For a European league with more balance, check out The New York Times’ look at the German Bundesliga.

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