(Union Coach) Peter Nowak is an Asshole

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I’ll be honest– I follow the Union from afar. I enjoy soccer, and have really come around to appreciate the game this past year, but I have a hard time going from high-level English Premier League and Champions League soccer, which is easily accessible on FOX Soccer and ESPN, to the volleyfest that is the MLS. That said, I’ll watch the Union if I have nothing better going on.

Here’s what I know, though: They’re doing something wrong. Through the first two years of their existence, the Union quickly won over many folks by hitting all the points on the new franchise checklist: Great team name and logo? Check. Kick-ass new stadium, positioned perfectly on the water, with outstanding views and the ability to expand? Check. Early success? Check. A small yet passionate group of ardent supporters? Check. Positive community involvement and marketing? Check.

It was all there. 

Now something seems like it’s changing.

For the Union, at this point, it’s still all about perception, and perception was all positive for the first two seasons. But the last few months have been rough.

It seemed like a smart move when the Union signed Freddy Adu late last year. He is one of the most recognizable American soccer players. The move, however, had the scent of an attention-grab. Even my untrained eye can tell that Adu, once a phenom, is not very good at soccer, relatively speaking. He has many tools, yet looks like he has no idea how to put them all together. You can’t help but wonder if the move was more about creating buzz than it was about winning. That said, we’ll give the Union a pass here. It’s hard to argue with a team for bringing on one of the most well-known players in the game (a player who, oddly enough, was once at odds with head coach Peter Nowak when the two were in D.C.).

What happened this offseason, however, was inexcusable.

The Union had one player that 95% of casual fans could identifty: Sebastien Le Toux. He’s a Frenchman, and was the team’s best and most popular player. Think about that for a second: they got a bunch of hardened Philadelphians to like a Frenchman. And not just like– love. Union fans adored Le Toux. He had his own song. And was even given a heartwarming sendoff at Kildare’s when he was sold to Vancouver. 

Wait, what?

Ah yes, the sale.

A young franchise sold their best, most popular, marketable, likable and recognizable player for cash. Why? To be honest, I’m not sure. But here’s how Le Toux took it, speaking to Delco Times Reporter Chris Vito just days after the trade-sale: 

“The only thing they wanted is the money,” Le Toux said. “Being with this team and being a guy, not to build around, but to help this team, was what I wanted. … They must have wanted to sell me for money because they needed money. We don’t have a nice practice facility and that is something they promised since I am here. It’s terrible.”

“I asked Peter (Monday at YSC) what was going on and he didn’t let me talk,” Le Toux said. “He started to get mad at me, telling me that I was very not respectful to leave Bolton early. I told him, ‘First, I respect myself.’ But I always did everything they asked me to do. I came from vacation in the Dominican Republic for the Bimbo (sponsorship) announcement. I always was respectful. … It was like he was saying, ‘I don’t know if I can trust you on this team.’”

 

When he refers to “Bolton,” he’s talking about a sale, two weeks earlier, to Bolton of the English Premier League. After a few days of tryouts (of sorts), Bolton declined to accept Le Toux, who would later say that he was out-of-shape. So that’s when the Union shipped him off to soccer purgatory in Vancouver.

Needless to say, the relationship between Le Toux and Nowak now seems, um, fractured.

On Saturday, Le Toux will return to PPL Park, and he will no doubt be warmly welcomed by fans. The buzz surrounding the match is akin to Mike Richards returning to play the Flyers in October. So, one would think that Nowak would expect to be asked some questions about his former star’s return, no? 

No.

Here’s what he said during a press conference yesterday when asked about it:

[Philly.com

"Are you being serious or are you joking?" Nowak asked. "Because I could look [at the question of how the atmosphere will be] from two different perspectives. I don't know, maybe confetti, maybe banners, maybe a parade? Who knows? I have no idea what the [atmosphere] is going to be. I am focused on our responsibilities."

"I am sick of this 'face of the franchise' crap," Nowak said. "You know who is the face of the franchise? Our fans who come every week to support us, the team. They are the face of this franchise. That's who we play for. Not some individual player. I'm not dumb, I know fans loved [Le Toux] and will cheer him, but at the end of the day, it's about the team, our team, and that's where the focus should be." 

 

What a genuine asshole. Nowak is known for his surly demeanor, but this seems entirely out-of-line. 

Speaking to some of the Sons of Ben, I can tell you that they feel the same way about Nowak in general. 

Danny Califf, the captain, is another fan favorite and one of the original members of the team. A few weeks ago he was left off the home opener roster againt Colorado. Nowak said Califf was still bothered by offseason surgery. But that was news to Califf: [CSN Philly

“Supposedly, I have a knee injury,” he said, in an attempt to explain his benching.

 

As such, this Saturday the Sons of Ben are planning Operation 4 – Love and Support for Our Captain. Here’s what they wrote on a Facebook page for the event

Call all Brigade, SoB, Creep, Illegitimates, Bridge Crew, and all Philadelphia Union fans. It is time to step up and show some love for our Captain, and one of the few remaining Union original players, Danny Califf. Here is what we need you to do. For the match on the 31st, make 2 poles showing our love and support of our Captain. You can keep it simple with blue material with a white 4, or get creative, maybe it is a number 4 that says Captain Califf, maybe it is a Captain's armband with a 4 on it, all we ask is that you make it in two pole form, and keep it appropriate (nothing lewd or vulgar). Bring it with you EARLY on the 31st, as it needs to be brought into the stadium with the other tifo (usually 2 hours before match time). We will take them in and pile them up on the yellow drum capo stand. Once we march into the stadium, come on down and grab your two pole. When the match clock hits the 4 minute mark (that is 4:00 on the match clock, not the 4th minute) we will all hold our two pole up for at least a minute in support of our captain.  

In you need some advice as to what kind of material to use, contact our two pole specialist, Kevin Leonowich via FB or @twopolekevin on twitter. Justin of the Brigade has already started this project, making two new Captain Califf banners to debut on 3/31, but now we need your help. Have fun, be creative, and show positive support for OUR captain, a man that has been there for us, the fans. Danny's hard work, determination, and leadership make him an important part of our club and someone we never want to leave us. Please feel free to contact us directly at BearfightBrigade4@gmail.com if you have any questions. 

Let's all work together and make a sea of Captain Califf 2 poles to show our love an support of our captain. Have fun, be creative! We will see you on the 31st at the tailgate. 

-Bearfight Brigade

'Where the weak are killed and eaten' 

 

OK, that’s a little weird, I’ll admit, but you get a sense of how the most loyal fans feel. And those feelings are compounded by the fact that the mostly revamped (purged?) Union roster hasn’t had much success thus far. The team is 0-3 and has been outscored 6-2 in its first three matches.

So, you have to ask yourself: Are the Union making foolish decisions… or is the coach just an asshole? I think it’s a little bit of both. But Nowak certainly seems like an asshole, especially considering he's managed to get into with three of his best players and former players (Adu, Le Toux and Califf).

Here’s video of his presser from Philly.com. The Union have some video too, but, as you can see, they cut out the parts about Le Toux.

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50 Responses

  1. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz to the zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz z z zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzza

  2. Selling Le Toux is the equivalent to trading Mike Richards to the Kings for Anze Kopitar’s skates. It made no sense. Le Toux was the one player I always knew when I started watching the Union, and when they lost Ruiz and Mondragon it made even less sense getting rid of Le Toux for nothing.

  3. Vancouver isn’t exactly soccer purgatory. They renovated a stadium, have solid fan support, and are part of some of the league’s best rivalries with teams from the PAC NW as well as other Canadian teams.

  4. Not to be a contrarian, but I can’t imagine a French soccer player is all that jazzed about the PAC NW and Canadian soccer, let’s be real here.

  5. Whether or not Vancouver is a nice place to play soccer (it is, especially for an international compared to Philly) is not the point here. The point is that the Union have made some very questionable moves for a young franchise dependent on fringe fans like our resident blogger here. Stick to the EPL #COYS.

  6. I defended Nowak whenever someone ripped him during the first two seasons, but this year I simply cannot defend his actions. He makes Andy Reid seem normal.

  7. You follow the Union from afar? Good, then get someone else to write the article and give a more informed opinion. You don’t know the team, so give it up. I’m sure one of your fanboys out there would love to help you out.
    Your site fucking sucks, you fucking suck, and you can take the pageview I gave you (yeah, we all know you’re obsessed with pageviews, asshole) and shove it up your narrow white ass.
    Eat shit,
    Me
    P.S. – I’m obviously just jealous of your site

  8. I think it really is one in the same: that meaning Nowak is an asshole and they are making bad decisions… because of Nowak being an asshole. He makes the personnel decisions on this team and he decided to push LeToux out. Sure management went along with it but it was his decision. This team is flush with cash (see the Bimbo sponsorship deal). Homer turned the Flyers over, but he felt there was an overwhelming need to do so. With the Union… in only their 3rd year… there was not an overwhelming need to do so. They were a good team last year. I’m ok with Mondragon leaving, Mapp, and Nakazawa too, but letting the player who scored 25 goals in 2 seasons leave just so you can pay Sheanon Williams (who is a good player and deserved to be paid) makes NO sense. Don’t sign, Pajoy, and sell Adu to ANYONE in Europe (because he still thinks he can play there) and use that money to pay Williams and then in turn… give LeToux a new contract. He wanted 400K and was already making 100K. That is certainly doable… especially of you get rid of the 600K you are paying Adu.
    This season is a step backward… well, more like a jump. Unless this team goes on a run really soon… like starting with getting 3 points this weekend… you can forget about this season.
    @DB – I agree with you. I really thought he was a mad scientist type of guy. Like he knew better, like an “in Nowak we trust” sort of thing. Not any more. He needs to go if this team goes to 0-5.
    And Kyle… thanks for the Union post. Keep em coming. And PS – Vancouver is not a bad place to play. They have a great fan base and will be much better than last season.

  9. Oh and Nowak… saying shit like, “I don’t trust you (LeToux) on this team anymore…” is complete BULLSHIT. It makes you sound like an insecure teenager. What was so untrustworthy about LeToux… his goal scoring? his ZERO cards received? his playing every minute of every game? his non-stop work rate? his loyalty to the fans?
    It’s a bullshit excuse. Nowak OUT!!

  10. You cocksuckers can all go shit in your hats.
    Kyle, go back to stroking off while watching the Flyers, you goof.
    Watching it from afar?
    Blow me.
    This is a city that loves assholes. Typical double standard coming from Philly.

  11. Nowak is a joke, how he continues to be a coach is beyond me. He is like a kid who gets a lego set that builds a castle and instead builds a jet ski.

  12. Why does every soccer article have to start like this, with a backhanded MLS comment. You say that you like EPL better and then say you have an “untrained eye”. Sounds like you’re just towing (toeing?) the standard casual fan line.

  13. The real house was a starting collegiate goalkeeper born and raised in connecticut and now a hockey guru

  14. MLS is god awful, the people who argue against that haven’t seen two good team in person play each other. Seeing that exhibition between Man United and Barcelona in DC last year destroyed any hope in ever becoming a real serious MLS fan until the league gets better players. Even the USA-Turkey game here in 2010 ran circles around what you see in today’s MLS. Backups on English and Spanish teams make more than every salary the Union pay out, players and personal.
    the differences are like comparing the Camden Riversharks and the Philadelphia Phillies.

  15. less harsh, it’s hard to follow because it’s not the elite. There’s probably 8 leagues in the world better than the MLS. Premier (England), La Liga(Spain), Bundesliga(Germany), Seire A(Italy), Ligue 1(France), Primera(Portugal), and Champions(England 2nd tier) all run circles around the MLS.
    The better MLS players leave. anyone who’s young and actually good will leave as well, just like a college sports. It’s really hard to find players stay in one place for a long time in the MLS.

  16. So people are only allowed to like better foreign leagues? They arent allowed to enjoy a team that is right down the street?

  17. Kyle, if Le Toux was good enough to play in the top flight of France, you can bet he’d be there. He isn’t that great. That said, he’s one of the top forwards in MLS. PAC NW are the biggest up and coming markets in MLS. Do a little research. Also, do you not recall what team Le Toux played for before Philly?
    Get a fucking clue before you post about soccer again.

  18. “up and coming markets in the MLS” come on, bro. seriously. that’s like saying so-and-so is the best up and coming signer in the banquet circuit. it’s not a desirable place to be.

  19. You soccer haters are all tools. Soccer is the #1 sport in the world. I understand that its not #1 here, and more then likely, will never be. With that being said, if someone enjoys a team that is in Philadelphia, are you really going to hate someone for that? Isn’t that the point, liking teams from your city of choice? Soccer haters are loads that their mom’s should of swallowed.

  20. Sorry but I wouldnt say the stadium is perfectly positioned. The stadium is in Chester. This team will fall apart just because the stadium is where it is. Your casual fan will stop attending these matches because if where the stadium is. Very bad decision putting it in the ghetto. Boggles my mind that they are hosting and All Star weekend in Chester, PA haha

  21. I remember when it was cool to rag on soccer, in like 1985. Grow up people, soccer is here to stay and the only real problem MLS has is that the EPL and Mexican league may be more popular.
    As for the Union, I think Nowak’s on-field decisions have been defensible. I think LeToux is an ok player with a tremendous workrate but that better defenses (think Houston in the playoffs last season) have figured him out.
    Nowak’s real problem is that he is, as you say, a totally miserable human being, and even his most loyal players get burned out on him in too short a time. I’ll be amazed if he lasts the season

  22. Thought i’d check back in on this soccer-thing. Nope, still a bunch of drama queens defending a shitty sport nobody cares about. Bunch of smelly immigrants running around in dirt and faking injuries to call it ‘strategy’. sad, really.

  23. the Cameden Riversharks are right down the street from me, I don’t waste my money watching that level of baseball. I’ll drive and pay more to see the best baseball players in the world.
    You won’t see anywhere near the best players in the world in the MLS. It’s the rejects league of the world. Landon Donovan is still in it because he can’t play in England and makes more here than he would there (a couple million), and there’s a reason you don’t see Clint Dempsey or Jozy Altidore in the MLS…because they’re better than it.
    MLS won’t make it in America until it has say top 3 or 4 talent. No one said you weren’t aloud to like it, it’s just why it’s never caught on.
    The same way the UFL never caught on, and that’s technically the 3nd best league of football in the world. MLS is probably the 10th-11th best soccer league in the world.

  24. Please don’t ever try to post about soccer again. Stick to what you know, TMZ-like gossip about the Philly sports scene, you fuckin wanker.

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