CHESTER, Pa. – Philadelphia Union manager Peter Nowak admits he made a mistake.
Last Saturday at The Home Depot Center, he rushed onto the field during a melee that broke out in a match against Chivas USA and was ejected from the game, leading to an automatic one-game suspension for Philly’s next contest on Saturday against the San Jose Earthquakes (7 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
“I know I was in the wrong spot,” Nowak said in his weekly press conference on Wednesday. “I shouldn’t have been on the field. So that’s my fault to get involved like this.”
At the same time, the Union manager did not back down from his comments that Chivas had a lot to do with the game turning chippy in the second half, nor did he condemn his players for falling two men down because of red cards.
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“After the game, I said they were trying to pull tricks out of their sleeves,” Nowak said of Chivas. “I think that was the right comment. I praise my guys because it was a very difficult situation.”
Despite the red cards to Keon Daniel and Gabriel Farfan, the Union managed to hang on for the 1-0 victory over Chivas. But the effects of those cards will last into this weekend with Daniel and Farfan also serving one-game suspensions against surging San Jose.
Nowak indicated center back Danny Califf is likely to return after missing two straight contests with a hamstring injury, which should alleviate the concerns surrounding Farfan’s absence at left back. Nowak could then reinsert Porfirio López at left back, where he started for the first four games, or move rookie right back Raymon Gaddis from the right side of the defense to the left.
“I don’t think there’s a big difference,” Nowak said of Gaddis changing positions. “Especially on the wing positions, you feel more comfortable being on the right side with a right-footed guy, but the responsibility is the same.”
With a deep stable of attacking players, Nowak will also have some room to maneuver when it comes to replacing Daniel in the midfield, perhaps even starting new acquisition Kai Herdling if the German becomes eligible in time.
Whatever the lineup looks like, Nowak believes his team will be boosted by the results of last weekend’s game, despite the ejections and looming suspensions.
“I always stress it’s important for these guys first to be confident, to believe in each other,” the Union manager said. “I think nothing comes closer to that when you play with eight men on the field and you still win the game. A group cannot come closer like they did over the weekend because that’s the best that can happen for them.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com.