Friday, July 3, 2015

Technology fails, Nowak doesn't

"I understand that soccer is not perfect," Peter Nowak admitted after being introduced as Philadelphia Union's first head coach.

Technology fails, Nowak doesn't

Peter Nowak meets the press. (John Costello/Staff Photographer)
Peter Nowak meets the press. (John Costello/Staff Photographer)

"I understand that soccer is not perfect."

Of everything Peter Nowak said this afternoon, I think that's the line that stands out to me the most.

Soccer is a capricious game. It can tempt you with free-flowing passes and Iverson-worthy dribble fakes, like what we saw from Barcelona on Wednesday. But it can also discourage you with crunching, studs-up tackles and balls hammered up the field from the back line by players who don't know any better.

(No, I won't pin that style on anyone specifically, but if you want to point to the English or the Greeks you're more than welcome to.)

How do you make up for it?

"I don't believe in words, I believe in hard work," Nowak said. "My old coach in Germany believed that if you run twice as much as me, you're going to win the game, and I believe that too."

It's a philosophy that seems perfect for a Philadelphia coach. But as I mentioned in my earlier post, Nowak is about much more than running and tenacity.

"I am more [of an] offensive guy - sometimes I overlook the defensive part," he said, though he added that he's spent a lot of time recently studying defense. "It would be nice to have one or two playmakers."

Nowak cited Barcelona's Andres Iniesta and Xavi as examples of his ideals: "Two guys who just run the offense," he said, snapping his fingers quickly and in rhythm to symbolize their movement.

But he added that "if you see the defensive work of Iniesta and Xavi, it's just amazing."

He made a basketball analogy about them too, not even knowing what I write about the rest of the year, stating that in both sports, "you've got to go in the shortest way to the positions."

It would be something to see Nowak and Phil Martelli talk to each other, wouldn't it?

That Nowak so willingly acknowledged the game's essence this afternoon was refreshing to hear - even more so in the context of my epic fail of a liveblog.

I thank those of you who read along and submitted questions. As a reward for your patience, I give you a healthy serving of multimedia from this afternoon.

There are also three audio tracks. The first is Nowak's Q&A during the press conference (and yes, I asked the first question); the second is my interview with team president Jay Sugarman; and the third is Nowak's conversation with reporters after the formal press conference.

On that third track, I got into the pack of reporters in the middle of a question. So the track starts with him talking about how he studied players while in charge of the U.S. Olympic team.

Later in the track, I'm sure you won't miss the part where Nowak accuses me of working for D.C. United. Believe me, I never did. But I did cover Nowak's United teams when I was living in Washington, and I was quite surprised to see that he recognized me.

And by the way, since the team's official press release uses the Anglicized version of Nowak's first name, I'll stick with that instead of the Polish version I used earlier.

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Soft Pretzel Logic is's college sports blog, with a primary focus on the University of Pennsylvania. You'll also see coverage of the Big 5, other major college sports events in the region, and the annual Penn Relays track and field meet.

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