It’s never easy being a goalkeeper in a professional soccer league. Being young and inexperienced makes things that much harder.
Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Chris Seitz knows what that feels like. Only 23 years old, Seitz made just seven MLS appearances before this season and has found life reasonably difficult so far in his first year as the team’s starter. Despite the bumpy beginning, his manager, Peter Nowak, remains behind him.
“This is not American football where you have three, four quarterbacks and you change them,” said Nowak following training on Tuesday. “The confidence in the goalkeeper must be there. You cannot just rotate it because one game is bad, two games are bad. He’s [Seitz] 23 years old, he didn’t play for two-and-a-half years.”
While fans may pin the issues on Seitz, Nowak made sure to point out that it is a team game and his teammates should take some of the responsibility for the goals they have allowed this season.
“If the free kick did not happen, he is not going to make a mistake,” said Nowak regarding Toronto’s first goal last Thursday. “If -- the second goal even, the PK -- if Jordan [Harvey] and Shavar [Thomas] go and cross the path of the onrushing striker, he’s not going to get to the ball. If Michael Orozco will not play the ball to Santino Quaranta, they were not going to get the goal.
“We put Chris in this spot," Nowak continued. "And that needs to change. The mistakes we made as a group need to change.”
The next challenge for Nowak, Seitz and the rest of the Philadelphia Union will be a trip to New York to face the Red Bulls at the new Red Bull Arena.
After finishing dead last in the league in 2009, the Red Bulls have experienced something of a resurgence this campaign, having won three of their first four matches under new manager Hans Backe. They currently sit atop the Eastern Conference.
Nowak was confident that his team could top the high-flying Red Bulls no matter how well they’re playing.
“Nine points is nine points,” Nowak said bluntly about his opposition’s standing. “But any given day in this league anybody can beat anybody. The strikers are very dangerous with [Juan Pablo] Ángel up top. The midfield is pretty solid as well. We’ll make a couple of adjustments but we’re still going to play our game.”