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Eastern Conference Championship

Union Notebook: Missed chances, but no panic in Philly

peter nowak

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CHESTER, Pa. — The Philadelphia Union haven’t won in more than a month, and have slipped to fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

But for Philly manager Peter Nowak, there’s not much reason for concern — at least not yet.

“We all know there were a couple of games we should have won,” Nowak said at his weekly press conference on Thursday. “We know what kind of team we have. It’s not that the guys aren’t trying. They’re trying very hard. I feel bad for them as a coach because I know how much work they’ve put together in training.

“Sometimes when you’re too focused or too stressed,” he added, “you just miss or hit the crossbar, and you cannot do anything about that.”

If not for Hurricane Irene, the Union (8-6-10) would have had a chance to snap their five-game winless skid Sunday against the New England Revolution, who happen to be the last team they beat.

Now, with that game rescheduled for Sept. 7, the Union remain idle until a Sept. 3 contest against Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL have only lost twice at home in 13 tries this season.

“We all know the pressure,” Nowak said. “I said to the guys that for a young and inexperienced team like this, sometimes it’s very difficult to overcome this pressure. All we need to do is not look at the standings, not look at who’s behind us, who’s in front of us, how many games we have left, how many games we have in hand. We just have to play one game at a time.”

Daniel gets national team call-up

Union outside midfielder Keon Daniel will miss Philly’s next two games — at RSL on Sept. 3 and vs. New England on Sept. 7 — after getting called up to the Trinidad and Tobago national team.

Daniel, who has earned 46 caps and has scored eight goals for the Soca Warriors, will travel to his native country this weekend to train with the team before playing against Bermuda on Sept. 2 and Barbados on Sept. 6 in a pair of World Cup qualifiers for T&T.

Daniel has been an important player for the Union this season, notching one goal and two assists through 18 appearances while providing speed and creativity on the flank. But the Union have enough depth in the midfield to ease his absence.

“I’m always happy for national team call-ups,” Nowak said. “I know how important it is to play for your national team, regardless of your country. Every call-up is an honor. I’m not going to try to find 1,000 excuses not to release him. This is very serious stuff for a players’ career and I’m not going to throw stones in front of him.”

Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at djzeitlin@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @DaveZeitlin.