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The MLS expansion Philadelphia Union has selected its first head coach and it has chosen a man with championship experience and a gritty style perfectly-suited for his new home.
Philadelphia will introduce Peter Nowak as its first head coach at a press conference on Friday, sources with knowledge of the hire told Soccer By Ives on Wednesday. Nowak, the only man to ever win an MLS Cup as a player and head coach, is leaving his post as U.S. national team assistant coach to take over as head coach for the Union, which is set to begin play in 2010.
Philadelphia Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz would not confirm the hire when contacted on Wednesday. Nowak, 44, was not with the U.S. national team in Miami on Wednesday at its first training session ahead of its upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Honduras.
A decorated player for the Polish national team, Nowak left a long career in Europe to play in MLS, which he joined in 1998 with the Chicago Fire. Nowak captained the Fire to the 1998 MLS Cup title and U.S. Open Cup title, earning a reputation as one of the best central midfielders in the league.
Nowak made a seamless transition to coaching, taking over as D.C. United head coach just one year after completing a five-year career with the Fire. Known for his no-nonsense approach, Nowak led D.C. to the MLS Cup title in 2004, his first season in charge. He spent three years as D.C. United’s head coach, compiling a 42-27-25 record during that time.
Nowak left D.C. after the 2006 season, choosing to join Bob Bradley’s coaching staff after Bradley was named U.S. national team head coach. Nowak served as head coach of the U.S. Under-23 national team, guiding it to an appearance in the 2008 Olympics in China, where the United States finished 1-1-1.
What is my take? Philly scored a major victory with the hiring of Nowak, who has had the chance to continue growing as a coach during his time with the U.S. national team. Once considered a taskmaster who struggled to work with young players in D.C., Nowak benefited from his time as U.S. Olympic team coach and developed a good rapport with the U.S. team's young players. He is considered in some circles as a more well-rounded coach than when he led D.C. to the 2004 MLS Cup title. Throw in Nowak's tough guy demeanor in a market like Philadelphia and it has all the makings of the perfect hire.
What do you think of the hire? Is Nowak the right man to lead the Philly Union? Will his hire add more fuel to the natural rivalry with D.C. United?
Share your thoughts below.