Excitement grows as Nowak acknowledges major signing
CHESTER, Pa. — When Philadelphia Union manager Peter Nowak walked in for his weekly PPL Park press conference on Thursday, he noted that he was a little jumpy because of all the medicine he was taking for his aching back.
Perhaps the big signing his team is prepared to announce contributed to that jumpiness, too.
Speaking mostly in generalities because the deal is not yet official, Nowak said that the Union had found their man — “maybe not only one,” he said — just before the international transfer window was set to expire.
The club later revealed it would hold a press conference Friday at noon ET to introduce their newest team member. Who that team member is the Union have yet to officially announce — but a few media outlets have reported it will be 22-year-old Freddy Adu, the onetime American prodigy who recently reemerged on the scene with a strong performance at the 2011 Gold Cup.
Adu, the youngest athlete to ever sign a professional contract in the United States, would be reunited with Nowak, who coached Adu when the youngster first signed with D.C. United as a 14-year-old phenom in 2004.
Seven years later, the Union manager could use Adu’s offensive skill to energize a Union attack that has sputtered with the departure of leading scorer Carlos Ruiz, who was sold to Mexican club Veracruz.
For the season, the Union are 12th in the league with 27 goals.
“That’s one area we need some cover,” Nowak said of his front line. “The rest we can figure out — the midfielders and defenders are pretty good. We’re looking how to score more goals.”
While Adu’s signing appears imminent, Nowak later debunked the rumor that Italian defender Fabio Grosso was on his way to Philly. Grosso, one of Italy’s key players during their World Cup championship run in 2006, currently plays for Serie A club Juventus, but Nowak said the Union pursued him when they heard speculation that he would be released.
Grosso, a left back, would fill a void left open when the Union traded Jordan Harvey to the Whitecaps for allocation money — although rookie Gabriel Farfan has filled in well at fullback since the Harvey deal.
“We did look in his direction,” Nowak said of Grosso. “We established the contact but the player doesn’t want to leave Italy and the family will stay in Italy.”
Bringing in another defender could still be in the cards for the Union. But it appears the big signing will be an exciting offensive player that every American soccer fan knows.
As Adu himself tweeted earlier on Thursday: “Stay tuned.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @DaveZeitlin.