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“Let us play the game and be ready for March 19”

Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

The press conference yesterday with Peter Nowak has generated a great deal of commentary.

While not a transcript, Jonathan Tannenwald of the Philly.com has posted further extended quotes of some of Nowak’s replies to questions.

Nowak makes clear the roster is still developing, underscores that he does not understand why questions about Orozco Fiscal have become so important, that the system under which clubs operate in MLS is very different from what we may be used to from other leagues around the world, that the club is not trying to hide information, and praises both Carlos Ruiz and Alejandro Moreno. Further, he expresses his wish that the media travel more with the team so that a more complete picture of what is happening with the club could be drawn.

On the Union roster

Peter Nowak: The roster is not set. The roster is projected right now to be in compliance with the rules and regulations of Major League Soccer. The roster will be all set on the guarantee date, which I don’t know off the top of my head right now. It’s not set at all. We can sign players who are free agents, who don’t have clubs, or who get released for whatever reason.

We try to manage this from a perspective that is going to help us not just in Major League Soccer, but also, as you know, the Reserve League will be played as well this season. We have obligations to our ownership group and our fans. We’re going to have a roster that competes on all these levels with the success that we all want to accomplish.

If we feel that we need pieces that are going to help us, of course we will make the necessary adjustments. We have enough resources under the cap, we have enough resources in allocation money that we can make this happen. It’s just a question of if we are going to have the right pieces, and what is needed at moments like that. And of course, the roster is not set yet.

Regarding Michael Orozco Fiscal

Peter Nowak: The overall confusion about that is because everybody forgot what the status of Michael Orozco Fiscal was last year. Michael Orozco Fiscal was on a one-year loan with an option to buy. We didn’t exercise our option on his contract, so basically since January 1st, he is the property of his former club. He is not the property of Philadelphia Union.

But the Union do not sign the players. The players are signed by Major League Soccer and are allocated to the teams. In this case, Michael Orozco Fiscal is the property of his former club, which is San Luis in Mexico. So that’s the whole explanation. I don’t know why the whole issue became so important right now, because it seems to me that you forgot what the rules are, and were not really paying attention to what the contract details were before making suggestions or pure speculation about how this happened.

It might be that the roster was not updated in due time because in camp we were trying to find other pieces as well, so it might have been confusing, but in this case there’s nothing left to say.

On why there had been so little information from the club about the status of Orozco Fiscal from the club.

Peter Nowak: I think, as I said to all of you before, we’ve got to stop paying attention to the details of the contracts. I know that sometimes, if you’re going to get somebody from a different club, you just say, okay, we’ve got him, and he’s our property, and then we’re going to do it as it is [financially]. In this case, it was the same question.

You can compare this to Michael Bradley’s situation [on loan at Aston Villa]. He is the property of Borussia Mönchengladbach [in Germany]. At the end of the season, he’s going to be back with Mönchengladbach regardless of what happens to him. If the people [at Villa] decide to follow up with his rights [and buy his contract], that’s another topic.

But in this case, we have certain rules and obligations from Major League Soccer. It’s not like we’re freelance and operate like other clubs from around the world. So that’s the point with Michael Orozco Fiscal.

There’s nothing much to say about our work, and as I said, you need to look a little bit deeper and not try to find out what happened. and how it happened, and why it happened, and why we need to announce it. It should be a clear process. At the end of the year, the deal was up, and he had to go back to his ‘mother club, which was San Luis in Mexico. Why did we need to announce that, why did people have to get aggravated about why the team was hiding some stuff?

From the beginning, it was well-known. End of story. He is back in Mexico, and this stuff is already done. For our club, it’s a very simple situation, and we need to move forward with that.

On the status of Levi Houapeu

Peter Nowak: We are in the process right now of looking closely [at him]. It’s not an issue of the money part, or this or that, it’s just some legal stuff, how we are going to move forward with that. We’ve worked with Levi at the last couple of camps, and the work has been very good. His mentality has been very good. So it might be that at the end of the day, before our first game, we make this happen.

But I cannot tell you right now how that’s going to be. We have another few days in Greece, then another week in Philadelphia, and we as a staff need to look closely at what’s going to happen next. Everything that has needed to be done has been done, now it’s just about what is going to be the next step. With regards to offering him a contract or not, I can’t tell you.

On Carlos Ruiz and comparisons of him to Alejandro Moreno

Peter Nowak: People forget too fast that Carlos Ruiz was, I believe twice, a Golden Boot winner. People forget that four or five years ago, he was a league MVP. In the last year, I’ve seen his European league games, I’ve had contacts seeing how he looks physically.

I think that people draw the line with him just to concentrate on stuff that makes people judge and profile Carlos right now, based on his stay in Major League Soccer. Everybody makes mistakes, everybody tries to improve their lives, everybody tries to take a second chance. It’s coming in the right direction.

I think that right now, Carlos is in a great mental state. He’s been working very well with the team. He brings some things that the team needs in terms of ambition, in terms of training, work ethic. You can see the player has matured. I know him from having played against Carlos in the league.

Drawing conclusions [about Ruiz’s history of diving] before they see him is unfair to Carlos, and I think it’s unfair to Alejandro Moreno as well. I think Ale did a great job with the team, because he gave everything he had on the field. He left the team with a great feeling about how he plays and works. I think nobody can say a bad word about Alejandro Moreno last season because that’s how this guy played the game.

I think drawing a conclusion before the first kick, with people’s suggestions that he might be this, he might be that, paying attention to small stuff like that, not judging him on what he’s going to do on the field, that’s unfair to “Fish,” and also unfair to Alejandro Moreno as well.

On drawing conclusions from the preseason so far

Peter Nowak: I think, as I said, you guys are drawing conclusions by looking not at the big picture but at single things like that – with Carlos, with Moreno, with the red cards, stuff like that. We’re trying very hard to get our [training] situation wide open for you guys. That’s why we opened the first couple of days at YSC when everybody could be with the team.

The reports that I had, that the team had, there was only pure speculation. People with cameras in front of the players, trying to figure out who was this and who was that. I heard that Chris Agorsor was actually compared to Freddy Adu.

The best situation would be, I wish that next year, some of you guys would travel with us. My doors are always open, the training facility will be open, and you can see the games we play. I think at the end of the Orlando trip, the guys were really tired mentally. I appreciate the work that they’ve done the last few weeks.

The game we played against Ergotelis was a pretty good game: very competitive, a lot of tackles, a lot of good moments and good flow of the game, especially in the first half. In the second half, we pushed the game even harder, because the youngsters played in the second half, and they had a couple of good chances to score another goal and win the game.

The referee, it being a friendly game, Stefani made a perfect tackle that was not at all a penalty kick, and not worth a sending off. I was in the stadium and physically didn’t see a red card. So maybe some of these guys who reported that Stefani was red-carded, maybe missed it. I was there, and I didn’t see the red card. [Editors note: the Union Twitter feed first reported the red card on Miglioranzi. The tweet has since been removed.]

Before we’re going to get to any kind of conclusion about where the season is going, and whether this is the Philadelphia Union’s style to get a red card, we ought to slow down and relax. Let us work, let us go with a good mentality and not concentrate on little things. Let us play the game, and be ready for [the season opener on] March 19th.


  1. Andy Dillon says:

    Nowak’s being dismissive claiming that people forgot the terms of the deal. I don’t think he’s giving the Union fans/media credit; not that many people forgot that MOF was on-loan last season, and that’s why there was a ton of hooplah as to whether his deal was being made permanent or not. They made such a big to-do about acquiring him after obtaining NYRB’s allocation spot, and they make such a big deal about releasing players, so why be all shady and sketchy about this one? MOF isn’t showing up on San Luis’ roster yet, so maybe he’s being loaned out elsewhere, OR (hopefully) they’re still ironing out the contract details. At the same time, RT8 is still listed on the (compliant) roster, which (to me) means that his loan has either been extended or he has been signed to a permanent deal with the team.

  2. Nowak doing his best Bill Belichick impersonation. I think he brings up some fair points, especially with the media coverage. There has definately been an incredible amount of speculation, based on the limited snipets of info we get out of the Union camp. Without the media having “boots on the ground” with the team, bloggers and fans are left to fill-in the blanks. The Union are still learning how to deal with this stuff in their first real off-season. Credit to Peter and the Union for having a presser to put out some of the fires.

    • Dan Walsh says:

      I think it’s more credit to their PR staff. The bottom line is that Nowak has no tact, and he doesn’t appear to deal with his players as straightly as players would probably like or deserve.

      The Orozco situation is the just his latest botching of how to publicly handle a personnel move — and probably the worst. The Union front office treats personnel moves like they’re the KGB, and Nowak treats the public — or at least the press — with disdain.

      He may well be a terrific Xs & Os coach, but last I checked, this wasn’t England. The Union are still building their base. The fans want to be informed and deserve to be informed. The Union’s good PR staff can only sterilize Nowak’s disrespect so much. If it keeps up, it’s going to lose them fans.

  3. operation PSP in orlando 2012- I think we need to make this happen- maybe not one of the guys who run the site from Philly but a correspondent/SOB who lives in the Orlando area- Ives does this with Franco Panizo in South Florida- however, this is season 2 and we have one major newspaper blogger and two major web pages dedicated to the team so with time will have more coverage.

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