MLS / Union

The Union – Behind the Bench

With the addition of Goalkeeping Coach Rob Vartughian on December 17th, the Philadephia Union now has what many would consider to be a full coaching staff. This seems like an appropriate time to take a closer look at the men behind the bench.

Piotr (Peter) Nowak – Head Coach – As a player, Nowak’s career spanned four decades, nine European club teams, and a very successful five-year stint with the Chicago Fire. He earned twenty-four caps for the Polish National Team and captained that side for three years. After a year off from playing, Nowak came back as the head man for DC United where he stayed from 2004-2006. Peter left DC for an assistant coaching job under Bob Bradley with the U.S. Men’s National Team. Nowak also worked consistently with the U.S. Under-23 Men’s program over that time.

John Hackworth – Assistant Coach, Youth Development Coordinator – Hackworth gained prominence in U.S. Soccer after a successful coaching stint at the University of South Florida. He was recruited in 2002 to work with the Under-17 Men’s program for the U.S. and was the director of the IMG Soccer Academy in Bradenton, Florida from 2004-2007. John was promoted to assistant coach of the full U.S. Men’s National Team in 2007 and worked along side Peter Nowak under head coach Bob Bradley.

Josh Gros – Team Coordinator – Josh is a native of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, just outside Harrisburg, and played his college soccer at Rutgers University. Josh was drafted in the 2004 MLS Superdraft with the 34th overall pick by DC United. Rising quickly through the team, Josh started in the midfield for DC from 2004-2007 earning himself a MLS All-Star nod in 2006. Gros was reportedly one of Nowak’s favorite players during his time in DC. Josh retired after the 2007 season due to accumulated head injuries and began pursuing his coaching career shortly thereafter.

Rob Vartughian – Goalkeeping Coach – Rob had a very successful college career at St. Bonaventure, where he still holds goalkeeping records, and played a year at Wake Forest while he began work on his Master’s degree. In 2001, Rob came on board with the Penn Quakers and coached both the men’s and women’s goalies. Some Philadelphians may recognize Rob’s name as he also played in goal for the MISL Philadelphia Kixx while coaching at Penn. Rob has played professionally for several other teams in the U.S. including the Charleston Battery, but focused on his coaching career when he signed on with the Maryland Terrapins in 2003. Rob coached Union goalkeeper Chris Seitz while he was an undergraduate at UMD, and was a major factor in the Terrapins two NCAA championships during that time. He has also served as goalkeeping coach to the United States Under -15 and Under-23 Men’s teams, most recently in 2008.

Fans of the Philadelphia Union were ecstatic to hear Peter Nowak’s name announced in May of 2009 as the first ever manager of the team. He comes with a reputation for hardwork and a passion for the game. Since May, Coach Nowak and the Union has put together one of the best young coaching staffs in Major League Soccer. With a focus on developing young talent, the Union has set itself up well for success in years to come.

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