Danny Califf doesn’t want to think about next season. Not yet.
Sure, the future may be bright for the Philadelphia Union. But in the wake of Thursday night’s crushing playoff loss to the Houston Dynamo, the veteran defender wasn’t in the mood to look ahead.
“Tonight’s more about reflection and disappointment,” Califf said following Philly’s Eastern Conference semifinal series loss. “Each one of us put so much into the season, and I’m not ready to do anything aside from thinking about what happened tonight and take the next few days to reflect on that. It’s going to be probably a solid week before I think about what’s going on next year.”
When he does start to think about next year, though, he’ll probably become reinvigorated.
Despite their early exit from the postseason, the Union were able to follow a tough expansion season with a run to this year’s MLS Cup playoffs. And if they continue to harness their young talent, they could be poised for even bigger things in Year No. 3.
“We’re young, and our young guys are getting a lot of good experience,” Califf said. “I think we’ve done a lot this year to build a good foundation, and I think that’s only going to benefit us going forward.”
Following Thursday’s season-ending loss, Union manager Peter Nowak also tried to keep things in perspective. He told his players how proud he was of their accomplishments and reminded them about the good things that could lie ahead.
“I told them in the locker room that maybe it wasn’t our year,” Nowak said. “Maybe we still have work in front of us to make sure this will happen soon. But I think there are a lot of things to be proud of during the season – how they developed as a group, how they came together. Of course, things need to be corrected and we’re going to have a whole preseason to do it.”
Certainly, it will take a little bit of time for the 2012 season to completely come into focus. But while Califf and the rest of the players have the luxury of taking some time off, Nowak and the coaching staff will soon begin to determine what their offseason priorities are. Then, they’ll go to work.
“We’re going to have a very hard look at what we have and what we need, and try to do the same types of tings we did last [offseason] to help us move forward – not just being in the top eight of MLS but higher,” Nowak said. “That’s the goal for next year.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org