Nowak looking for better play from Union in run-up to playoffs

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Alejandro Moreno is kicked by Manchester United's Web Brown. (Steven M. Falk / Staff Photographer)

Since the Union's solid performance in a 1-0 loss to Manchester United on July 21, team manager Peter Nowak has been receiving congratulatory calls, e-mails and text messages.

The Union used nine starters during a scoreless first half in a game played before 44,213 at Lincoln Financial Field. With wholesale substitutions in the second half by both teams, Manchester United took control.

Of course, Nowak didn't see things the way so many of the well-wishers did.

"I wasn't happy with our performance," Nowak said. "I heard from a lot of people about how well we played and I don't know if they were being diplomatic or generous, but I believe we can play better."

If that is the case, then the Union could make a serious bid for a postseason berth, where eight of the 16 Major League Soccer teams will qualify.

That run for a playoff spot begins with Saturday's 3:30 p.m. home game against the New England Revolution at PPL Park.

After the next 15 days, the Union (4-8-2) will have a better handle on their postseason chances. The game against New England (4-9-2) will be the midway point for the Union.

Thirteen MLS teams have more points than the Union's 14. However, the Union and the Chicago Fire have played the fewest MLS games, 14. By Aug. 14, the Union will have played five games, four at PPL Park.

If there is ever a time to make a postseason push, this is it.

"We have made enough progress to make a step forward now," said Nowak, whose team played the the club's USL-2 affiliate, the Harrisburg City Islanders, to a 1-1 draw in Tuesday's friendly match.

The Union have bolstered their midfield since their last MLS game, a 2-1 win on July 17 against visiting Toronto

Eduardo "Chacho" Coudet, a first division player from Argentina, was signed last week and the Union traded for Chicago Fire midfielder Justin Mapp on Monday.

Of the two, the 35-year-old Coudet, who has played in three friendlies for the Union, is expected to see immediate action.

Noone in, Perk out. The Union on Friday signed former Temple midfielder J.T. Noone. Since the preseason, Noone has been training with the Union and playing with the Harrisburg City Islanders. In addition, the Union waived rookie goalkeeper Brian Perk. The 21-year-old Perk was the 49th overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft. He didn't appear in any MSL games and played in two friendlies for the Union.

 


Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or mnarducci@phillynews.com.