CHESTER, Pa. -- The Philadelphia Union may have still been in with a faint hope at the MLS Cup Playoffs going into Saturday's match against the Houston Dynamo but that did not prevent Peter Nowak from resting some of his regulars.
Captain Danny Califf, midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi, Fred and Justin Mapp all got rested as the Union manager felt that some of his starters deserved a match off after playing two tough fixtures in quick succession.
Despite the switch in personnel, the Union still played a solid match and Nowak was pleased with how the replacements performed against a strong Houston side.
“It was a tough couple of days we had behind us,” said Nowak regarding the reason he rested his regulars. “Many of these guys played two games, [last] Saturday and then in altitude on Wednesday. This was a very significant factor to the lineup today. We tried to refresh the lineup and I think for 75 minutes we did a good job. For the last 10 minutes we were a bit disorganized because we were a bit too anxious to score a goal.
“Overall, it was good for the young group to get the minutes and we just want to keep everyone sharp for the last couple of weeks.”
Nowak singled out midfielder Roger Torres as the young player who the he felt had the strongest game. The 19-year-old Colombian sent in a perfect ball to Sebastien Le Toux on the Union’s opening goal and was a handful for the Dynamo defense over the course of the match.
Giving minutes to players like Torres and Kyle Nakazawa is sure to benefit the team in the future with the playoffs out of reach this season.
“Roger played pretty well,” said Nowak of his young playmaker. “He played a great pass to Sebastien on the goal ... I was very happy with his performance, especially with him getting limited time lately. It was good to have him back.
“Kyle Nakazawa also played very well in the middle. Spreading the ball and trying to find the rhythm. It’s a very young line-up but these guys needed the minutes and that’s why we decided to go this way.”
The man leading the youngsters in the match was forward Alejandro Moreno, who wore the armband in Califf’s stead. Pleased with the effort his team put in, Moreno was still disappointed not to get the full three points from the match.
“I think in the first half we created a few things going forward and we were dangerous,” Moreno said. “In the second half we lost the ball and the rhythm. We fell into their game a little bit. In the end it was a good point for us to get as they are a very tough team to play, very physical. I am a little disappointed we couldn’t get three points.”