The Union’s ultra-competitive boss Peter Nowak will never be satisfied with less than three points from any match. Nowak has earned a reputation over the years for his unsurpassed will to win, first as a hard-nosed player on the pitch and now as a manager on the sidelines.
So when Philadelphia came away with a 1-1 tie against New England on Saturday, some might expect the former Polish National Team captain to be discouraged by the result.
Not the case.
“The whole group is pretty good,” he said following the match. “They still played pretty good ball. I think the soccer was not bad today. It was a great goal by Seba (Le Toux).”
While Nowak acknowledged that the tie was frustrating, he’s ignoring the urge to dwell on the result, choosing instead to focus on what the club can take away from the match.
“I think games like today make us stronger mentally and physically,” Nowak said. “We have big games coming up, and this result today will make them more hungry for a win. I think the physical part has always been good, and I believe it’s going to stay that way for the rest of the season.”
“We have the option to manage the lineups as well, and give different players different minutes, so I think they are ready for a big stretch. It’s been good so far, and we’re getting stronger every single week.”
When Nowak mentions his lineup flexibility, two of the players he’s referring two are recent acquisitions Justin Mapp and Eduardo Coudet. Coudet started for the Union on Saturday and played 83 minutes, proving to be a stabilizing force in the middle of the field.
“I think he (Coudet) did a good job, especially in his first league game with us,” said Nowak. “In a league game, it’s a little different. We weren’t sure he could go 90 minutes. He was distributing from the back and being active in trying to find the guys in front of him.
“It was very good and very positive. I think we can take a lot from this game, especially from his game today. We are looking forward to improving his game and also getting him to be a bit more involved in not only distributing the balls, but also being active in the attack.”
Mapp also made an impact, showing his pace and creativity after coming on as a substitute in the 56th minute.
“That’s why we made a trade,” Nowak said about the 2006 MLS Best XI midfielder. “I think Justin has great potential. We looked at maybe giving him a start because Danny Mwanga was not 100 percent healthy today. We tried to manage that because we have a big stretch coming up with a lot of games. We gave Justin a run for 35 minutes, and we believe that going forward he’s going to help us. For us as a coaching staff, we have choices and options, and we’ll look at the lineup going forward. We have four games in two weeks, so that will be a help to us.”
In what has become a trend for Philadelphia in their inaugural campaign, the club’s quality in the run of play wasn’t rewarded with a victory against the Revolution. For Nowak, the key is continuing to play the type of attacking soccer that has become a staple of his expansion side.
“We can control what we can control,” said Nowak. “We have 18,000 very sophisticated fans and they know the game very well. It’s easy to get frustrated, it’s easy to be upset, but it’s not going to change the outcome of the game. If we score two or three goals, then we don’t have problems with the other stuff going on.”
Judging by Nowak’s reaction to Saturday’s draw, don’t expect a change in mentality for the Union anytime soon. If the club continues to push forward aggressively, while maintaining the sound defense that has seen them give up more than one goal only once in their last nine matches in all competitions, sooner or later the wins will come.