Nowak pleased with Union progress

Coach stresses keeping it simple as opening day approaches

Now that the calendar has officially flipped to
March, the countdown to First Kick continues, moving ever closer.

March 25, to be exact, at Qwest Field against Seattle
Sounders FC.

With that landmark
date looming larger every day, Philadelphia Union’s technical staff
realizes how much work must be done between now and then.

That’s exactly what is going on during the club’s
training sessions in Guadalajara, Mexico.

“We’re doing well,” Philadelphia Union Team Manager
Peter Nowak was saying during a break on Monday. “The weather is great,
the guys are adjusting and everything is moving along. We have a lot of
work to do over the next three-plus weeks before we play Seattle. We’re
keeping things as simple as possible and not speeding up the game too
much yet.

“We have a lot to focus
on and we’re getting better every day. The players are starting to
execute what we’re looking for.”

Philadelphia
Union and Chivas De Guadalajara played to a 2-2 tie in a Sunday
training session at Chivas’ training facilities. Philadelphia Union will
next have a training session with Tecos UAG (Universidad Autonoma de
Guadalajara) on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. ET.

The physical aspects of the training are obviously
difficult. Playing together for the first time and preparing for the
2010 Major League Soccer season is also tough.

Nowak believes the team chemistry will continue to
build.

“I think it’s more of a
mental challenge than anything,” Nowak said. “It’s being out of your
comfort zone. Playing against better competition will be good. Getting
that mental preparation where you need it every day is a challenge. I
think the soccer part is going to be good. The younger players
especially have been away for a while, and the mental part can be tough.
I think the players are doing a very good job handling everything so
far.”

Since the initial training
sessions at The Healthplex in Springfield, Pa., Philadelphia Union’s
players have pushed forward with a rigorous plan stressing conditioning
and physical fitness. That regimen continued in Greensboro, N.C., and
into Guadalajara.

“I have been very
pleased with the players’ fitness, and I think it will keep improving,”
Nowak said. “We will keep working on the technical part every practice,
and I think we will be ready to go by the opener.”

Speaking of the opener, it’s hard to fathom that
Philadelphia Union will be playing a regular-season game in slightly
more than three weeks.

Guess what?
You can believe it.

“The first game
will be easy to play because of the energy and the excitement of the
whole day,” Nowak said. “From my perspective, we have so much to do here
and then in Tampa before we play Seattle Sounders FC. It’s going to be
soccer 24-7 from here on out. I think if we keep that mentality,
everything going forward will work itself out.”