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Peter Nowak departs the Union

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union CEO and Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz announced on Wednesday that Peter Nowak is no longer with the Union.

Union assistant coach John Hackworth will now lead the team as interim manager.

The announcement confirms a report from Philadelphia Daily News reporter Kerith Gabriel published less than an hour before the press conference saying that Nowak “is out as manager and vice president of soccer operations with the club.” Delco Times reporter Chris Vito published a similar report shortly before the press conference began.

Sakiewicz said, “Peter Nowak is stepping down as our head coach and team manager. I made the decision to do that.”

“Over a period of time we determined we were no longer on the same page,” he said, emphasizing the central issue was one of differing styles and how the Union brand was being represented. Recent player moves were not a factor.

Sakiewicz said the decision was made after consultation with the team’s ownership group.

Hackworth will take over as team manager and oversee all soccer operations. “I have immense comfort with him leading our guys,” said Sakiewicz.

Sakiewicz said the decision was “not about wins and losses or performance of the team. This is more about philosophical differences.”

“Peter’s contributions have been greatly appreciated by me and our investor group.”

John Hackworth said, “I wouldn’t be here without Peter Nowak,” adding, “He’s a dear friend of mine.”

Hackworth said, “I’m very excited to get to work.” He said there will be no coaching staff changes.

Nowak leaves the team with a 2–7–2 record and on the heels of a series of very unpopular trades that have left the Union fanbase reeling. Nowak was also due to coach the MLS All-Stars against Chelsea at PPL Park on July 25.

Nowak was named head coach of the Union on May 29, 2009, one day after he resigned as an assistant coach of the US Men’s national team. His record with the Union since the inaugural 2010 season was 21-30-24.

Nowak’s departure follows reports on Saturday that he had submitted his CV for the head coaching job at Scottish club Hearts. While Nowak denied the reports as “absolutely false,” Barry Anderson, the Edinburgh Evening News reporter who first broke the news, stood by his story and later tweeted that he was “100% definite” that Nowak had applied for the job.

When asked about the reports during the press conference, Sakiewicz described them as “rumors” but acknowledged they were “not good timing.” He continued, “No employer wants to read that his most important guy or asset is out looking for employment.”

The media advisory distributed by the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday morning announcing the Sakiewicz press conference resulted in rampant speculation on Twitter.

Earlier in the week, the Union informed members of the press that Peter Nowak would be holding his weekly press conference at 1:30pm on Wednesday. Philadelphia Union and MLSsoccer.com reporter Dave Zeitlin confirmed via Twitter that the scheduled Nowak press conference had been cancelled. Speculation as to the subject of the press conference only grew when CSN tweeted they would be broadcasting the press conference.

PSP will have more information as it becomes available.

Managing editor Ed Farnsworth contributed to this story.


  1. Watching the press conference now, Nick Sakiewicz is completely full of shit.

    • WilkersonMcLaser says:

      +1 This presser made me seriously wonder if Nowak is just a fall guy for Sakiewicz’s stubborn asshattery.

      I gotts say, his warped, smug comment about fan criticism and fan favorites just underlines just how disrespectfully he treats the fanbase.

      • I swore I watched his nose grow when he said he didn’t hear about eroding fan confidence.

  2. This had to be in the works for awhile.

    So why in the fuck would they allow him to make the Mwanga trade?

    • If Nowak didn’t let management know he applied for Hearts that will get you fired quick.

      Or he let them know and got the job.

  3. T of the U says:

    Is Nowak the “fall guy” for a ownership group that was running out of money/not making enough? They force Nowak to make the bad moves and pool some allocation money together…then off him.

    Just playing the devil’s advocate here…as I can’t stand Nowak and am looking forward to a (hopefully) fresh start with Hackworth having control of the on-field product.

    • Jeremy L. says:

      That’s possible, but I kind of don’t care either way. The team needed a fresh start, and a different face. I’m amazed it’s actually happened, though, and mid-season no less.

    • I think we can all agree that Nowak has alot of bad qualities for which the team has suffered (ego, poor personel decisions, poor tactican decisions, etc). His termination is the first breath that this drowning franchise has had in months. That said, this does not mean that Nick Sakiewicz is some kind of white knight. He let this mess happen. He can try to distance himself all he wants now, but that doesn’t change the facts one bit. He’s tainted too.

      • WilkersonMcLaser says:

        Yep. I don’t think fan confidence is restored just because he culls Nowak. In what could have been a fresh start, his presser was blackened by his awfully arrogant comments about fan confidence. He had an opportunity to improve his image with the fans and fell well, well short.

  4. JediLos117 says:

    The veil of the dark side has been lifted.

  5. Holy poop, while I know its somthing most of us wanted. Im effin surprised…wow. Well ding dong, the witch is dead. Time to move on!

  6. Sebastian Le Toux says:

    “I would be happy to just retire than play for Peter again,” Le Toux said.

    Note, nothing about Hackworth.

  7. Philly Cheese says:

    There is a sense of rejoicing from many in locker room, I am almost certain. I think preserving Nowak’s dignity may have affected some of Nick S. comments, but “not about wins and losses”. and “Nowak makes excellent decisions on the field” ” there is no erosion of fan support” almost lead you to believe he is totally out of touch with reality. Let’s put all of that PR aside, and give Hackworth encouragement as new manager/coach. Same of previously favored players may find less playing time as Hackworth is likely to not play favorites. At a minimum, players will have honest coach with some sense of treating players with respect.

    • WilkersonMcLaser says:

      Maybe, although Sakiewicz’s comment about Josue Martinez troubled me. Martinez may very well be some diamond in the rough unfairly neglected by Nowak (although I doubt it?), but the fact that Nick was basically prescribing lineups during the presser is fundamentally at odds with his quip about the coach having all personnel power (by the way, there’s just no way that’s true).

      There can’t be any way that Sakiewicz hasn’t noticed eroding fan confidence, so he’s clearly lying. That, to me, also makes me think he sees too much of his own reflection in that fan anger, so he’d rather write it off.

      • Out of danger of reading too much into what Nick Sakiewicz says, there did seem to be a shift in tone half way through the press conference the tone seemed to shift from we all were consulted on personnel decisions to all decisions were Nowak’s and we were just kept in the loop. It also kinda coincided with questions somewhat critical of Nowak’s decisions.

    • Totally agree PR can say all they want as any team does. But I’m all behind Hackworth he seemed to put out decent squads even with the dark lord pulling strings.

  8. Could this maybe have happened I dunno, BEFORE we traded away our captain and our most promising young player?

  9. I still feel this is all a prelude to a sale of the team. Salary can’t be any thinner than it is now.

  10. WilkersonMcLaser says:

    By the way, a bit off topic but does anyone have a link for that rumor I keep hearing about Adu to Leeds Utd?

  11. I’m going to contact the league and see if all player-movement decisions by a coach/manager can be made null and void if said coach/manager does not hold his position for that respective season. Bring back Le Toux, Califf, Mondragon, Harvey, et al. kthxbye

    • somedooper says:

      Mondragon asked to leave, he wanted to finish his career with the Columbian club team he started with. Although he was sort of pushed out the door by Nowak, Farryd’s exit was mostly by his own decision.

  12. My now 8 YO daughter has been to almost every union home game.

    — She cried when I told they traded LeToux. He was her favorite. She had photo of her with him after a game in frame in her room. He was a solid guy who got it.

    — She cried when I told her they traded Califf. He was her second favorite. She had his autograph hanging on her wall. After one of her indoor games at YSC at some ungodly time in the morning, Califf stopped by to chat with them after a workout. He was another solid guy who got it.

    — Last week, her response to the Mwanga trade — “Daddy, they just don’t care about us, do they. I’m not going to cry any more about that team.”

    — I can’t wait to tell her about this news. I am seriously excited.

    (P.S. – after the Califf trade, she said “Daddy, don’t tell anyone who my next favorite player is, I don’t them to be traded” Looks like Amobi is safe for now…)

    • WilkersonMcLaser says:

      This seriously warmed my cold, West Philly heart. Philly could (has) do worse than your 8 y/o daughter pulling the personnel strings!

    • This is so much better than hearing myself and other adults complain. I love this hearing kids (including my younger siblings) have passion about teams. Tell her it can only get better.

  13. How many of you who had decided not to renew your tickets just reconsidered?

    • Section 116 says:

      Accountability is Step 1.

      Step 2 is using Allocation Money in a way that puts talent on the field rather than pay down DP salaries. And that means something other than another Columbian forward.

      I’ll make the decision at the end of the transfer window.

    • I’m renewing anyway. It’s still fun to go.

  14. OneManWolfpack says:

    @Rob127 – I’m on that list.

  15. Le Toux suddenly gone, Califf suddenly gone, Mwanga suddenly gone–one week later, Nowak gone. One week! Does this club have any direction, or does management just make up the latest change whenever the team records a loss?

    • Let me add to this. I guess this is good news. But I can’t make sense of all the official-site coverage of the Mwanga trade, with all those quotes from Nowak about the reasoning behind bringing on Perlaza from a tactical standpoint, and than hearing that we’re getting a new coach. What on Earth is going on in Chester? I’ve never seen a club run like this.

    • But I have to say, I look at Hackworth as a man that I can trust. There’s a honeymoon to be had for sure, but I can’t imagine there’s anyone that knows the players like he does, and he’s in touch with the public. Great position from which to start his regime.

  16. The problem is that Nick is still there. We all know what Nick is about. He has a track record from his days with New York. I think that was an initial sign from the ownership group that things weren’t necessarily going to be done in a Philly way. Number one, don’t bring in a guy who ran the enemy’s team! Then Veit left and Nick consolidated power. At least Veit was visible, he showed up at the tailgates, and he appeared to be someone we could deal with, despite the Uncle Bob flap. The owners, of course, have been completely silent. That’s not always a bad thing of course, if you’re winning. When the Phillies stunk, the silent owners were berated constantly about being cheap, not appearing to take an interest in the club, and many wished that they would sell the team to a Comcast or other big company. But now that they are winners and big spendes, no one cares about the owners. Any great sports organization needs to have a good front office guy and a personnel guy. They need to know what their jobs are, and not get in each other’s way, and work together. So it has to be a good fit. They can’t be too into what the other guy is doing, but they can’t be too disinterested. It’s hard to find that right relationship and it’s no wonder that egomaniacs like Jerry Jones want to do it all themselves.

  17. EveryoneRelax says:

    Union took the last four days to investigate the report regarding Nowak’s interest in Hearts.

    Fired for lack of commitment. No sale of the team, no lack of direction. Just a lack of commitment to the Union badge.

    Doesn’t help that they can’t score a goal in league play to save their lives.

    Let’s get behind Hackworth and get a W on Saturday!

    • The fact that Nick didn’t say the firing was because of the win-loss record, the personnel moves, or the tactical/technical decisions (although if anyone of us were in Nick’s position they are certainly good enough reasons for firing), that it was just a vague difference of philosophy, not being on the same page, blah, blah, the Hearts rumors had to have pushed it.

  18. I don’t know who said it, but it’s a fairly common axiom: a team will definitely get in trouble if they always listen to their fans. They will also get in trouble if they never listen to their fans as well. Now, Nick is going to be a good company guy and steer the press conference in his own direction as well as spin things positively. I suppose he could have simply re-phrased the lines about fan dissent and dissatisfaction. You will get in trouble if you say things like “there is no erosion of fan support”. That’s just insulting because it’s a declarative statement. He could have just as easily said the following: “I know there are many fans out there who are not happy with performance of the team. Believe me, I’m not either. I know we can and should be better than we are now. I know there are many others who were not happy about the moves made by Peter. (Note, not saying “by the team”.) The owners, John and I were all consulted and aware of these moves, and at the time, they were believed to be in the best interests of the team. Maybe, going forward, we’ll go back and look at everything and see where we can improve in player/personnel moves. John has my complete confidence in handling those matters, and we’ll work closely together to continually improve the team’s roster now and for the future.”
    It sounds a lot better, it’s still a spin, but it doesn’t insult anyone’s intelligence too much. If people want Nick to get on his knees and beg the season-ticket holders who either canceled or on the fence to come back, that’s not going to happen.

  19. Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now lets see what Hackworth can do.

  20. I was away at a conference all day, but I followed on tiwtter, and my reactions was: OMGOMG OMGOMGOMGOMGOM OMESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

  21. I can’t believe some of you are complaining now that he’s gone. I for one am very happy that we’re finally rid of him.

    • Not complaining he’s gone so much as worrying the problem runs deeper than just Nowak.

    • Not me. I am as happy as can be. I am so tired of feeling the conflict of rooting for my team but not wantin Nowak to be successful. GO UNION!

  22. Region 1 Guy says:

    OMG…just went from BAD to WORSE. Many of you may not remember when Hackworth was the head guy for the U17 MNT….what a DISASTER! The Union has proven to me they’re really not interested in the product they run out onto the pitch.

  23. Nowak was a horrible manager who ruined our season but leaving Hackworth in charge for more then this season will set us back further. My guess is they can’t afford anyone better though so although this will feel good and was needed we are by no means out of the woods with this mess…just sayin’

    • I think this was such a quick decision by Nick that there was no way they could bring in a new permanent manager. And also no need. The big work is over the off-season anyway with the draft and the transfers. The question is, if not Hackworth, then who? If they bring in a new guy, then Hackworth would assuredly leave, especially he acquits himself well for the rest of the season. My money is that Hack is right now in the lead to get the permanent tag unless the rest of the season goes completely tits up.
      Also, I think since Nowak’s salary is probably still on their books and depending on how his contract was written, if it’s like other coaches who are fired mid-season, the U probably still owe him the rest of this season’s salary. They probably couldn’t afford to hire a new guy anyway until Nowak’s salary goes off after this season.

  24. Feels good to be rid of that ass clown!!!!!

  25. Chris Rudderow says:

    My only fear is that it lets the FO off the hook for the season… All year, the story has been “This is part of a bigger plan. You just haven’t seen the end move”…. So they make all these prelim deals to set things up for a big finale… then can Novak… meaning they can write off doing nothing this July … They either say Novak DIDN’T have a plan afterall so he was fired… Or they did have a plan, but the manager leaving derailed it…

  26. What an asshole. If he really “stepped down”, he did a damn good job ruining the season before he left.

  27. I’m psyched! In this particular case change is good. Can’t wait to see who Hack rolls out on the back line, and which players (if any) suddenly see the light of day. I’m shocked…

    2 questions for y’all: Why fire the coach AFTER a two week span of exibition games and not BEFORE same? A wasted opportunity like our Pre-season? And, I have to ask, was Hack the…ahem…most cost effective option for ownership? I honestly hate to bring that up because Hack seems both capable and cool, but it follows a recent trend from this FO.

    • The Black Hand says:

      I think that Hackworth got the nod because he is familiar with our players and might be able to make some sense out of this mess, that has become of our club. I hope that he has wiped the board clean; abandoning the Nowak philosophies. It will be refreshing if Hackworth could, at the very least, recognize our strengths and build off of them. There is quality within our club. I hope this guy sees it.

  28. T of the U has got it right I think. Sorry to say that, I don’t like Nowak either but all of this smells like BS to me. I hope I am wrong, we need a pro club in the area.But the Union aren’t acting very professional this year.

  29. Obviously, the Hearts stuff must have proved to be true. I cannot imagine the team allowing Mwanga to be traded for, allegedly, “strategic issues” and then axing the coach a week later unless something new came up.

    Echoing the sentiments above, Sak came across as disingenuous for the entire press conference. The only honest things he said, in my estimation, were 1. Hackworth is the new coach; 2. It was “bad timing” on the Hearts news.

  30. i hope he does NOT mess up the all-star game oh,nowak if you are reading this I HATE YOU!

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