Peter Nowak doesn't mince words.
He continued with that mind-set during a media conference call yesterday, but it didn't make his answers regarding former defender Michael Orozco Fiscal any less confusing.
Orozco Fiscal joined the Union last season after being acquired via a 1-year loan deal from Mexican first-division side San Luis. He started 20 matches for the club and was a key member of its defensive corps. But on Tuesday, when the Union released its roster ahead of Major League Soccer's roster compliance deadline, Orozco Fiscal wasn't on it.
The Union, Nowak revealed, refused its option to purchase Orozco Fiscal at the end of last season and, according to the manager, he has not been a member of the team since Jan. 1, despite remaining a mainstay on the team's preseason roster. Orozco Fiscal's training with the Union and even participation in preseason exhibitions in Orlando was on a trialist capacity.
"Why do we need to announce it? End of story, he's back in Mexico," Nowak said. "Simply, his loan was up and it seemed like this stuff was already done. There is no need to explain anything about Michael Orozco Fiscal."
An odd response, considering the Union has been a franchise that releases just about everything pertaining to the club. And yet it remained mum for more than 2 months regarding its starting defender.
"I think the overall confusion was that people forget that Michael Orozco Fiscal was on a 1-year loan deal with an option to buy," Nowak said. "We didn't exercise that option, so, since Jan. 1, he has been property of his former club."
Per Major League Soccer policy, clubs never release terms of a contract, generally making the length of any deal speculative. Orozco Fiscal received a base salary of $150,000 last season, according to the MLS players union.
Attempts to reach Orozco Fiscal were unsuccessful. As of late yesterday, he was not listed on San Luis' roster.
The Union still has until April 15 before MLS' primary transfer window closes, providing time to shore up a back line consisting of just five players: Sheanon Williams, Jordan Harvey, Carlos Valdes, Juan Diego Gonzalez and team captain Danny Califf. The Union's roster count is at 22 - MLS allows a maximum of 30 players, with 18 to dress on game days.
The Union opens its season March 19 at Houston.
"We plan to have a roster that will compete and allow us to have a very successful year," Nowak said. "If we need to make adjustments we will, but we have to look at the [salary] cap, allocation money and the fact that we have to do all of this and remain under compliance with MLS."
Odds and end lines
Due to illness, Sebastien Le Toux has not been an active participant during training in Greece, but the Frenchman was announced yesterday by the club as the face of PPL EnergyPlus and Bimbo Bakeries, whose 4-year sponsorship deal is valued at $12 million . . . The Union routed third-division Greek club Hersonissos FC, 5-0, behind a pair of goals each by youngsters Jack McInerney and Chris Agorsor and a final tally by Danny Mwanga in the 84th minute . . . SuperDraft selection Levi Houapeu is not listed on the Union's roster, but don't count him out just yet. According to Peter Nowak, a deal is not out of the question and the issue isn't about money, "it's deeper than that" . . . Nowak, on the decision to cut Nick Zimmerman and local product J.T. Noone: "As I said, it's a process, and, at the end of the day, we are looking to improve our roster. There are guys that came in that just wanted it more and as hard as it is to make the decision, you have to make it."