Peter Nowak

Nowak, Petke, Guppy, Boswell quotes

Head coach

What are your thoughts about the game against Chivas?
"I thought it was good to start with a win, but I wasn't really happy with the first half. But we made the adjustments and in the second half it was much better. From the soccer standpoint we moved off the ball pretty good. Actually the guys we put in, Santino (Quaranta), Freddy (Adu) and Clyde (Simms), did very well. They made a difference. I'm happy with the three points, but there's still a lot of work to do."

You went through preseason trying several players out in several positions in the defensive line. How are you feeling about starting Bobby Boswell back on that line?
"I always felt that it isn't one particular guy who will make a difference. If the first line of pressure is good, and the second line of pressure is good, then the defenders have an easy job to do. I think overall they were very solid. Mike (Petke) and Brandon (Prideaux) helped Bobby in the middle. The key was that we played better in the second half with the pressure up field and in the middle. I think that is the key to the whole season. As I said, it's not a single player's game, it's a team game. They did a pretty good job together."

What do you know about Pumas?
"We have a lot information. We used our resources. They're the champions of Mexico, and we're the champions of the U.S. It's going to be a good game, good soccer. I expect there's going to be a lot of fighting and running, and that's how it's supposed to be. Even watching the U.S./Mexico game, we saw they were very technical. If you leave them a lot of space, they can hurt you. From our end, we just want to concentrate on what we have to do to win this series and then move on to play in the final."

How important is having the first game in the series at home?
"This isn't like Europe where the away goals almost count like double. That isn't really a big difference. Like I said before the Jamaica game, the first game is crucial. You set the tone, set the advantage for the second game. You have to make sure you're in good shape going into Mexico City, because it isn't going to be easy. I expect the first game is going to be difficult. We have to be ready mentally and physically."

What is Bryan Namoff's condition?
"Bryan is in a day-to-day situation. We have to see how he's going to develop. We have to see if we want to risk him if he feels as if he's ready. I cannot tell you right now."

How good was it to see Santino Quaranta back on the field after fighting with injuries over the past year?
"I think it was important for his confidence to be on the field. He had a great preseason. He did everything we asked for. Mentally, it's good for us to give him the minutes. I talked to him before game, because he did very well in the preseason, but he didn't start, and that was our decision. He understood that, and made a good effort during the game."

Steve Guppy -- Midfielder

How is your adjustment to the new team going?
"I'm really enjoying it. I was ready for a new challenge, and that is exactly what it is. In regards to Saturday's game, I thought the standard was good. It was just a matter of getting used to the heat, because, obviously, in England we're not used to that kind of heat. So, once I adjust to that, I'm sure I'll be fine."

What about level of play of the game itself compared to what you have played before?
"I've been asked that question a lot since I've been here, and back home as well. I think the style of football is different, and it has to be because of the weather. From what I've seen, I think the standard is very good. There are some very good players here that would do well in England. So, I compare it favorably with back home, maybe not the Premiership, but the league below, the Championship (League), which is a good standard in England."

Why were you brought into D.C. United? Was it to fill the leadership roles when Ryan Nelsen and Earnie Stewart left?
"The left winger that was here before me (Bobby Convey) was sold to Reading (England Championship League) and there was a space on the left wing. The other guys who left have got nothing to do with me coming, because they don't play the same position as me. They were looking for a left sided player and I fit the bill. Once they approached me, I was quite keen to come out and try out."

"I think, from my time here, there are many leaders in the locker room here. I suppose that, from my experience in England, they are looking for some help in that department as well, and I'm happy to help with that anyway I can. It's a two-way thing -- they're helping me out settling, and I hope to be able to use my experience if they need it."

What is the biggest surprise about the entire experience since you have joined the club?
"There are a lot of differences, like Saturday's game with the camera flying around above our head. That was funny. I couldn't believe how low it was flying. I thought the ball was going to be hitting it the whole game, but it didn't happen. Little things, like the press in the locker rooms after the games, that would never happen back home. It's just the little things that make it great."

What are your impressions of coach Nowak?
"He knows what he wants from his team, and he demands high standards. The tempo is very high, and the training standards are very high. The standard in training is very good. It reminds me of back home. You have to be on your toes everyday, and from that you keep good standards, and set the bar high. It's up to everyone to maintain that or else they're going to be out of the team."

What are your expectations for the year?
"My expectations are, hopefully, to stay on the team and do well. I suppose my main asset is to get forward and set up the forwards with as many chances as I can. I'm hoping I can do that and give them as many balls in the box as I can."

Mike Petke -- Defender

What did you take away from Saturday's game?
"I took a lot of positive things out of it. You have to remember that it was a team that wasn't as strong as it probably will be at the end of the season, as far as Chivas goes. I don't want to demean them, but they weren't a huge task for us. On the one hand, I'm happy with the way we played, but on the other, we're not ready to say that we've arrived yet. We did a lot of good things, but there are a lot of things we've got to work on."

Being the leader in the back, are you comfortable with the way it is set at the moment?
"I'm comfortable, but I'm not satisfied. Defensively, we had a great preseason and didn't let that many goals in at all. No matter who we played, we shifted well and we played well. Because we're missing Namoff right now, it was important to us to establish from the first game that we have to get our order and get together right away. Bobby Boswell is a young kid, a rookie, and he had a good game on Saturday, but he's got a long way to go before we can start touting that he's arrived as well. He knows that. He wants to learn as well. As a defensive group, we played well, but we've got a long way to go."

Are you comfortable with Boswell in the sweeper role?
"Yes, I'm comfortable with it. As I said, Bobby has a lot to learn and he knows it. That's one of the biggest things that I'm happy (about), along with the other veterans, he's willing to learn. He's not coming out there acting like he's arrived, or our starting sweeper now. He was put into a difficult situation in the first game, and he played well. He knows that we can't get ahead of ourselves. Playing Chivas (USA) isn't like playing Pumas this Wednesday. It's not like playing New England in the Conference Finals, it's far from it. Bobby, if he keeps going like he has in preseason, he's going to be a great player in this league."

What do you know about Pumas?
"I don't know much of them other than what I've seen over the last couple of years watching them when the TV was on. They're a very good team. They are a storied Mexican team with huge tradition. If we play our game, I'm comfortable and confident that things will work out for us. It's not going to be like last Saturday's game. We're going to watch some game film, see what their strengths and weaknesses are, and go out and play our game."

What changes have there been in the dynamics of the locker room leadership in the past couple of months with Ryan Nelsen and Earnie Stewart leaving?
"It's kind of funny in a way, and everybody laughs about it. Over the last year and a half, everyone has been (talking about) Ryan and Earnie's presence. They're players, they're men. It's not like they walked in and a light shined down on them. It's so funny how people will make it out like that. Ryan and Earnie will laugh about it. Last year, Ryan was the captain and Earnie was a huge international player, but it's not like we're walking around with our heads down now, because those two aren't here. We have leaders on this team. I've been in this league for eight years; Jaime (Moreno) has been here for 10 years; Ben (Olsen) has been here for eight years. Some of us lead by example, some of us lead by talking and some of us lead both ways. So, yes it's a big loss in certain aspects of it. But, as far as leaders, we haven't skipped a beat yet. Everybody is in tune together. The rookies are paying attention and doing well, and the veterans are doing their job by leading."

With the first regular season game out of the way, do you feel the team is where it needs to be at this point in time?
"Not even close. That was our first game of the season and we're definitely on our way. We're in a better position than we started out last year. Last year was different because we were trying to find our groove. We had a lot of new additions and we had new coaches. This year, we know what is expected of us and we know how difficult it is going to be. Have we arrived yet? Not even close. I'm glad we haven't. One of the biggest things for us last year is that we hit our peak at the right time, more towards the end of the season. A lot of teams hit their peak at the first part of the season and then they died out. It's all about hitting your peak. I'd say we're on an up slope and doing the things we need to do, but I'm looking at us hitting our peak around the All-Star break and then be coasting then."

Bobby Boswell -- Defender

How does your experience as a professional soccer player feel so far?
"It's great. I'm excited to be here and I'm glad that I had the opportunity to go in there (Saturday) and show what I could do. Hopefully, I will continue to play well so I can earn the spot, be a consistent starter in the back."

Did you expect to be with D.C. United at the start of the season?
"I can't say that I expected to be here. For about a month, I was unsure of what I was going to do. When I got the call, I was excited to get in there and wanted to do well. Things started progressing. I can tell that I'm already starting to develop. The coaches and other players have put a lot of work into helping me out. Hopefully, I can keep developing and playing well."

Have you talked to coach Nowak about his expectations of you?
"We've talked some. I think consistency is the main word. If I can consistently do my job by winning balls and being in the right positions, then things will go well. Then it's just down to me playing consistently."

How important is it to be playing next to veterans like Petke, Prideaux, and Namoff?
"That's the second part to it. The coaches help out, but playing on the field with those guys they'll make sure that I'm playing in the right place. If I'm not, they let me know, 'Hey, you messed up'. It's invaluable having great players around you. It makes you a better player, of course."

What are your expectations?
"The main thing is consistency. I want to play well consistently. I want to be a starter and play."

What is your assessment of your first game? What did the coaches think of your play in your first game?
"Well, I guess, for myself, I was happy with some things, but upset about others. I could have won a few more balls. There were a couple of times that my positioning could have been a little better. I guess the way I see it is that, if I make as few mistakes as possible, (it) will help the team out. That's what I'm going to do every game -- evaluate what mistakes did I make, and how can I improve for the next game."

How much pressure do you feel because you are stepping into Ryan Nelsen's shoes at central defense?
"Actually, if anything, with the way he played, I get to watch video of that and it helps me. We are different players in that he was such a great player. I want to work to become one of the Best XI like he was. I don't really feel the pressure in that aspect. It's more of a team thing, and I just have to do my part to help the team be strong."

What are your strengths as a player?
"I'm a big guy. I should win a lot of balls in the air, win tackles, and whatnot. I think I read the game decently. The key is to make sure that I'm always in position, squared up to ball and seeing the field. I'm working on striking the ball and adjusting to the speed of play. Overall, it's mainly my size and how I read the game."