Friday, September 19, 2014
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Marc Narducci: Looks as if Philadelphia Union president Nick Sakiewicz couldn't take manager Peter Nowak's antics anymore

Among Peter Nowak´s most controversial moves was trading popular striker Sébastien Le Toux (right). (Michael S. Wirtz/Staff file photo)
Among Peter Nowak's most controversial moves was trading popular striker Sébastien Le Toux (right). (Michael S. Wirtz/Staff file photo)

Peter Nowak may have stepped down as Union team manager on Wednesday, but only after being pushed.

Nick Sakiewicz, the team's CEO and operating partner and a former player who lives, sleeps, and breathes soccer 24 hours a day, used one of those hours to give Nowak the boot.

And now the clock is ticking on Sakiewicz and former assistant coach and new interim team manager John Hackworth as they try to apply CPR to this disappointing 2-7-2 season.

Sakiewicz said the change (he won't use the word dismissal, let alone firing) was done due to philosophical differences and had nothing to do with the team's performance on the field.

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  • Still, one has to feel that if the Union were 7-2-2, Nowak's antics may have been tolerated a bit longer.

    Nowak is a complex person, who can be alternately charming, irascible, passionate, combustible, enlightening and often rambling.

    People knew where they stood with him - which was usually on wobbly legs.

    Patience, apparently, wasn't a virtue of Nowak's. Of the 11 players who started in last year's 1-0 loss at Houston in the final of the two-game series, five are no longer here.

    In Nowak's mind, nobody was bigger than the team, and so he traded arguably the Union's three most popular players - Sebastien Le Toux, Danny Califf and Danny Mwanga.

    And, apparently, his incessant wheeling and dealing made management a little dizzy. The constant roster moves appeared to be among the major philosophical differences.

    "Ultimately, Peter was responsible for the players who were brought in and moved," Sakiewicz said. "That is the way I run this club."

    Nowak was unavailable for comment. In a text message to Daily News beat writer Kerith Gabriel, he denied a report that he applied to coach the Scottish Premier League side Heart of Midlothian.

    Sakiewicz said he did discuss this report with Nowak. Despite Nowak's denial, a soccer source said on Wednesday that he did indeed apply for the job.

    Who knows?

    With somebody as complex as Nowak, nobody could get a total read on him. He kept everybody guessing.

    Now the guessing is over, except over Nowak's next soccer destination.

    The Union are a franchise that is selling out 18,500-seat PPL Park in Chester for almost every game. Now in their third year, the Union debuted when the economy wasn't very good (not that it has improved much) and has still prospered.

    Sakiewicz and Hackworth say this year's team is better than last year's group that went 11-8-15 and earned the franchise's first playoff berth.

    Really?

    "Not even close," Sakiewicz said.

    He says one must go past the final score to judge a team.

    "All in all, we have performed very well on the [field]," he said.

    What field is he looking at?

    Sakiewicz says that, in soccer, the best team doesn't always win. He feels the Union have dominated many games this year, but for some reason - a fluke goal, a referee's call - the team fell short.

    It's true that the Union have enjoyed the territorial edge in most of their games, but when the season ends, the standings aren't graded on a curve.

    So if the Union want to extend their season again - and there is still plenty of time left - they may want to reverse their total of eight goals scored and 14 allowed.

     


    Contact Marc Narducci at 856,779-3225, mnarducci@phillynews.com or follow @sjnard on Twitter.

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