Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Union manager Peter Nowak on Sébastien Le Toux trade: 'It's not about one player'

Union manager Peter Nowak spoke with reporters about the Sébastien Le Toux trade and the club's other big moves on a conference call Tuesday afternoon.

Union manager Peter Nowak on Sébastien Le Toux trade: 'It's not about one player'

Union manager Peter Nowak spoke with reporters about the Sébastien Le Toux trade and the club's other big moves on a conference call Tuesday afternoon.

Here's a transcript:

On whether trading Le Toux was specifically for money:

Not really. It’s all about, as we always said, that we all believe and we make known to the public as well that we would like to build a club that is all about the future. It’s not about one player, it’s about the future.

I think in the past two years we’ve built a good foundation to express that and to build towards the future. I think this was important to keep our philosophy, and the moves we made confirmed that. It's all about the future of this franchise and this club.

We feel very strong about that.

On the point at which the club felt Le Toux was not needed as part of that future:

You don't justify it with words like that. I think this is the wrong approach. We have to look at what kinds of commitments we have with other players. We'll continue to build our franchise, and as I said, it's not about one player.

It's about the players we have and foundation we have. We want to keep the group intact as much as we can. 

On comparing this deal to the Union's trade of Jordan Harvey to Vancouver last summer:

[To refresh your memories, Nowak said at the time: "I think Vancouver really wanted him, and my point was always that if it was not going to be a significant offer, then I would not even blink my eye. But it was something that as soon as the offer came, we thought about it and we made a decision."]

After it was no secret that the Bolton offer would not go through, Vancouver made a very strong approach. We as a team, as a coaching staff and also the board, analyzed the whole situation and then accepted the offer.

On whether there is a connection between the allocation money received for Le Toux and the announcement that the Union have purchased the full rights to midfielder Roger Torres:

Of course. That's why I gave my answer to the first question. We want to invest in the future. We have a very good foundation with our youth pieces, and we believe and have faith in them that they will develop in the right way.

Every year, all these youngsters were very good. They got more time on the field, they understand each other more, and we want to keep the group intact and make them develop even stronger as a team, as a group.

That's true with Roger Torres as well. We want to make sure that whatever resources we have, we reinvest them in youth.

On the degree to which his knowlege of yet-unnamed players already in training camp made it easier for the Union to trade Le Toux:

There's no easy trade. It's not easy to let players go. That's not an easy part, and I expressed that after Jordan left and Carlos Ruiz. It's not easy for any of us, but as I said, we want to reinvest the resources we have in the players that we believe are going to be with the team for the future.

We have a couple of guys on the roster for whom we want to improve their contracts, because they still have contracts from past years and they are not financially strong, but they contribute to the team.

You can name them - one is Sheanon Williams. 

That's a part that we want to continue to improve and keep these guys for a couple more years.

On what message he would give to fans who see Le Toux's departure as a major shock, when such moves are commonplace in soccer around the world:

Major shock? We have to understand that soccer is completely different from other sports in the U.S., where you have the four best leagues in the world. You're going to stick with the players you have and give them the money they deserve, continue to work towards goals, improve with draft picks and try to develop them in the right situation.

Soccer is completely different from those four sports in that we’re still growing as a franchise and we're still growing as a sport in the United States.

We have to accept that this is a global sport. I don’t see anyone from Europe coming to make a great impact in the NBA, American football or baseball, and they all have their local heroes.

Soccer is different. We’ve made no secret of building our club, our franchise, around a whole team. We strongly belive that a championship team is not when you have the best players. A championship team is when you have the best team playing as a team. That's the philosophy.

On how the Union will compensate for the experience lost with the departures of Le Toux and Faryd Mondragón:

I think they have both provided that over the last two years. Of course experience is vital. I think that over the last couple of years Sébastien and Faryd gave the group very good confidence, faith and a mentality. They showed how to win games, and how to be true professionals.

They helped the team grow into the team that showed up during the 2011 season and was mentally strong. We have faith and confidence in this group that we have right now.

This is unfair to these guys in the locker room right now to project how things are going to be before First Kick. Let the pieces grow together.

And I think we have some great offseason additions with Porfirio Lopez, Gabriel Gomez, Josué Martinez and others as well. And the rookies are doing well. So let them play the games and we can judge from that. 

But for now, it's unfair to say that this group is inexperienced. With Danny Califf, Brian Carroll, and even Michael Farfan and Sheanon Williams, they already know what to do on the field. They already know what is pressure, they already know how to win games.

So I'm sure the rest will follow as well.

On whether the trade had anything to do with Le Toux's role on the field, and his past comments that he would prefer to play as a forward instead of a midfielder:

No, it had nothing to do with this.

On whether the Union received a formal offer from Bolton Wanderers for Le Toux:

No.

On whether the Union did not want to bring Le Toux back after there was no offer from Bolton, or whether Le Toux did not want to return to the Union after no offer was made: 

Feelings are not really included in my job description. I have to make sure that the team is good; that the team understands the goals we are going to set up; and that the team is going is going to have a future from today until whenever. Whether it's past me, whatever the future is going to be for this franchise.

That's more important to me, to see the overall picture and how the pieces will fall in place, and also what kind of vision and philosophy we have as a team.

You guys [in the media] simplified things. It's not [just] my decision, because it might be another manager who can come and who can make those kinds of decisions. It's about the team.

If you want to have a sustainable competitive advantage - which means you've got to be competitive for years to come - then you have to create room.

We don't have like the NBA's luxury tax or salary cap, where you can blow the team out of proportion. We've got to make sure that for the future, we're going to be secure, and have a group that has developed over a couple of years together.

On whether Faryd Mondragón’s departure took him by surrpise, and whether he has any concerns with only one goalkeeper on the roster:

I'll answer that the other way around. We don't have just one goalkeeper on the roster. By March 1 we have to make roster compliance. We already have two goalkeepers for training purposes, and we had three with Mondragón when we started the preseason.

You can come tomorrow [Wednesday] and watch, and draw conclusions.

Of course there was a surprise with Mondragón, but ee expressed a wish and we granted his wish. We cherished his time with us, and we know what kinds of not only performances, but work he put together. He tried to encourage the group and show them how to be a playoff team, a championship team.

That's something that you cannot put on paper, that you cannot put on a trade value in a contract. This is something that will stay with the group forever.

It was a couple of days ago that he came and expressed his wish. After we talked, all of us, it was something right to do. We're grateful for his time with us.

On whether Le Toux was happy to re-join the team when he returned from Bolton:

Why are you asking me this question? As I've said from the beginning - I can repeat it all over again - but that kind of question, I don't know. I truly don't know.

On his perspective of Le Toux's impact on the team:

Of course. It's something that made a change from the field. From the beginning, when he scored three goals [in the Union's first ever home game], he was associated with our franchise. That was no secret to anybody.

The rest, scoring so many goals in the first season, you're always going to be visible. He played in the All-Star Game. So he represented our club in a very good way. That's not a queston at all. For us, he was a piece that was always a player who put everything in, especially in the first year.

I think he's a good role model for other players as well.

On who he sees picking up Le Toux's role as the main goal scorer:

As I said before, we're speculating without even seeing these guys [in training camp]. We're drawing a conclusion that there's nobody on the team who can score 10 or 12 goals, or 15 goals. I think it's not fair to these guys. We're going to work towards that, to find the right guys

The competition is with Chandler Hoffman, Jack [McInerney], Danny Mwanga and Josué Martinez. It's a great one. Let them figure out what to do. We're going to help them as a coaching staff to devlop as a right way, and get them ready for the season, and we'll see what will happen.

Right now it's too early to say who's going to score 15 goals. I don't work in a hypothetical world. I live in reality and see these guys every day. I'm sure that they will fulfill their responsibilities, and also that they are going to develop as the right guys in the locker room. That will get them ready to achieve even bigger goals.

On what he wants Danny Mwanga to take from his time training with Aston Villa:

I would like Danny to see it first-hand. That's the purpose. The timing could be a little bit odd because we're starting preseason, but there were a couple of immigration issues that we cleared for him to go to Aston Villa.

[We wanted him] to see first-hand how you work, how you prepare yourself, what is the locker room like, how everything works first-hand, and to have a sniff of that. It's a completely different world out there. So they can be prepared and when the opportunity comes, they will be ready from every possible angle.

So it's a very good time for him. It's only a couple of days and he's going to join us Monday in Florida and we'll be very happy to have him back.

A lot of MLS teams dream about having Danny Mwanga. They tried to spin it in the wrong direction - telling everybody that we were shopping him was completely false. All of a sudden it came up that he was not needed here. That's not the case. We're going to welcome him with open arms, and I hope with more experience.

On the challenge of building a roster for this season given how many players the Union may lose to the United States Olympic squad:

First, the team needs to qualify for the Olympics - then we will think about what's going to be next. Another part of who is going to go is that it's not my call - it's coach [Caleb] Porter's call as to who's going to be there.

As far as I know, especially when players go to the camp, there are a lot of guys in the camp. They need to perform, they need to fit in coach Porter's concept, and if they do, then we'll see what will happen next. But as of now, I don't know whether it's going to be three, four, five guys, or what will happen.

On whether there's anything to conclude from the fact that the Union have made multiple trade with Vancouver in their history:

No. It's a coincidence.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
About this blog
The Goalkeeper is your home for the latest news about the Philadelphia Union, Major League Soccer, U.S. national teams and the rest of the world's most popular sport. It's also a place for fans to gather and celebrate the culture of soccer and its unique place on the sports landscape.

Reach Jonathan at jtannenwald@phillynews.com or 215-854-2330.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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