CARSON, Calif. – Danny Califf has moved on – emotionally and physically – from the Philadelphia Union after joining Chivas USA following what he described at the time as “the longest trade in the history of MLS.”
But with his former head coach Peter Nowak departing the club on Wednesday, the longtime Union captain paused for a moment to reflect on the changes in Philadelphia.
Califf learned of the end of Nowak’s tenure following the Rojiblancos’ training session on Wednesday and while it took a moment for the defender to process the change, he was incredibly pleased for his former assistant coach John Hackworth (above, with Califf in the background), who has been named interim head coach by Philadelphia management.
“I was pretty well in shock and I was hoping that it would be John who would get a chance to take over and run the team,” Califf told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “I hope that he’s going to be able to have the power to make the decisions that he needs to make.”
Although Califf’s time with the Union ended with a long, drawn-out trade to Chivas, the Southern California native served as Philadelphia’s leader in defense and captain from the time that he joined late in 2009, prior to the club's inaugural season. From there, the veteran center back earned 61 appearances for the club before issues with Nowak led to the highly publicized trade that saw him sent to Chivas in exchange for midfielder Michael Lahoud.
While the consummate professional Califf wishes his former head coach no ill will now that he has left the Union, he believes that the coaching change could be a good thing for his former club.
“You never want to see anyone lose their job, but I think that now that John is the head coach, it’s going to be a more stable and honest environment,” Califf said. “I think that will bode well for the future of the club.”
In particular, Califf is highly complementary of his former assistant Hackworth, who has taken over at PPL Park on an interim basis. Hackworth and Califf’s relationship dates back “six or seven years” to the coach’s time with the US national team, and the defender believes Hackworth could be the one to turn fortunes around at PPL Park.
“Not only is he a very good coach who knows the game, but he’s just an incredible person,” said Califf. “I think that he was a guy certainly when I was there when Peter and I had some issues or things like that he was the guy that I could speak to and I knew he would shoot me straight."
“It was really a unique thing so there’s that part that will be good and refreshing,” Califf added. “But also, you have a guy whose approach to the game is professional and it’s a really going to be good for everyone involved.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.