WAYNE, Pa. – Danny Califf will serve as Philadelphia Union's captain once again in 2012.
Union manager Peter Nowak revealed on Wednesday that his veteran center back will once again wear the armband, following the departure of Faryd Mondragón in the offseason.
“I think it’s a natural thing right now that Danny Califf will take over as captain,” Nowak told the media after the team’s open training session at YSC Sports. “He was [next in line] behind Faryd when Faryd went down [with a broken finger on Sept. 3], and Danny took over as captain. So we’re not going to change anything with that.”
The Union went unbeaten in a seven-game stretch last season with Califf marshalling the team and Zac MacMath stepping in as the starting goalkeeper. Califf also wore the captain’s armband throughout Philadelphia's inaugural 2010 campaign.
“It’s an honor obviously, every time you get to slip it over your arm," Califf said in response to his appointment.
Califf is just one of three Union players to start a game wearing the armband. Alejandro Moreno captained the team during the two games Califf missed in 2010.
“If Danny can’t play, then I think Carlos Valdés is next, Brian Carroll, Gabriel Gómez,” added Nowak. “Even Sheanon Williams as well, because he deserves it."
Nowak’s list of possible alternate captains reiterates a confidence in the staunch Union defense. Califf, Valdés and Williams all serve on the backline, while Gómez and Carroll are defensive-minded midfielders.
“I’ve been in this role before, where you have to be one of the players with veteran leadership and take on the role at times of captain,” Carroll said when asked how he felt about being on Nowak's short list of candidates. “I did it with Columbus both in the league and in Champions League situations, so it won’t be anything new. It’ll just be with a different group of guys. And we have a lot of good guys on the team that work hard for one another, play hard for one another – they’re young and up-and-coming players. I don’t think [serving as captain in the event Califf misses a game] will be a problem, you just need to be ready when the situation arises.”
Nowak isn't alone in his assessment of the back line's quality. After all, only the LA Galaxy conceded fewer goals in 2011, and Philadelphia set an MLS record for fewest shots on goal allowed per game.
“We pretty much kept the back line intact,” said Califf. “And we added a left back [Porfirio Lopez] with a true left foot. That’ll give Gabe [Farfan] a chance to move up into the midfield where maybe he can be a bit more comfortable. I really hope we can be a rock for this team again this year and build from the back forward.”