Seattle Sounders 2, Philadelphia Union 0
SEATTLE - Well, this was one way to make a first impression.
After the Union's 2-0 loss to the Sounders at Qwest Field last night, Peter Nowak started out by talking about his team's defense and the effort it gave despite being down a man amid 36,241 green-clad fanatics.
Then he made a subtle transition. But by the time the reporters in the room realized what was going, Nowak was well on his way through a considerable rant about what he perceived as unfair play by two of Seattle's biggest stars.
From the other standpoint, you've got to say that all this flopping and diving - you see the stats, we had eight fouls and six cards - it's a little bit too much for any of those standards. These guys rolling on the pitch like they got shot. I think we need to recognize that these guys are doing this stuff and they're trying to take advantage of the referees, of the decisions of the referees, and trying to make themselves protected.
I don't know why. I expect Freddie Ljungberg, who scored so many goals and played, I don't know, 80 too 100 games with [Sweden's] national team, and won so many trophies, that he's going to be more honest than he's being, and complaining and whining about every single call, and trying to push the referee to give the yellow cards. For his standards, it's not up to his standards.
We both played the game, and I believe that if you play the game, you try to not only win, but you try to be honest with your effort, and not something like that. I think it's below his standards. But whatever. That's just my opinion.
In most situations, I probably would have dismissed this as having been forged in the heat of the moment. Nowak's team picked up five yellow cards - including one in the very first minute of play - during the match, and rookie defensive midfielder Toni Stahl was sent off in the 41st minute.
But Nowak returned to the matter later in his remarks.
This is a man's sport. I'm sorry, but this is how the men play. Let me see the stats again... eight fouls, six yellow cards. It's a little bit too much, for the standards, as I said, of the guys who are on the field. Even with Freddie Ljungberg, if he would do this back in England with Arsenal against West Ham, I'm sure that 98 percent of the crowd would boo him. This is below his standards and I believe he's a better player than this.
You can hear audio of Nowak's press conference in the player below.
I am certainly not going to deny Nowak the right to say whatever he wants about what he sees in a game. I agree that Alejandro Moreno's yellow card wasn't for much. But from where I sat, both of Stahl's tackles were worthy of bookings, and if you get two yellows you're gone.
There's also no question that the Union clearly intended to be the more physical team on the field, and they were. There were times when they put some really nice passing sequences together, but because they didn't score any goals, the rough stuff will be remembered far more.
A few other things for you to check out this morning. Also in the audio player are postgame interviews with Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz, forwards Jack McInerney and Sebastien Le Toux, midfielder Danny Mwanga, defender Danny Califf and goalkeeper Chris Seitz.
The last track is MLS commissioner Don Garber's interview session with reporters that was held during halftime. Garber discussed Philadelphia's arrival in the league, Seattle's success, the new stadium in New York, the lack of a new stadium in D.C. and a range of other subjects.
Finally, I put together a video of Union fans' pregame celebrations last night. You can watch it in the video player at right. I hope it conveys at least some of the passion and energy that everyone who was in Qwest Field got to enjoy.