Photo: Earl Gardner
Check back throughout the day for three posts looking at Reading United ahead of Saturday’s friendly with the Union. Also, look at our weekly Footy on the Telly post for World Cup qualifiers and Euro 2012 live listings for your TV and computer.
At Thursday’s press conference, Peter Nowak said the Danny Mwanga trade was based on immediate needs:
“It’s not Danny’s fault. It’s nothing against Danny, I think there is different qualities we need right now because the configuration and structure of our team changed a little bit. We want to give the guys up front a bit more freedom so we needed different qualities. It’s important to find the right pieces to fit the team you have and to fulfill what we need right now. Jorge[Perlaza] is going to bring those qualities to our team.”
Those immediate needs? Nowak explained,
““From a technical standpoint, both teams were looking for, not change per se, but a complement for the strikers they have…With us, with Lionard Pajoy, we tried different components, to find a way to put 2-3 strikers (on the field), and for this reason we were looking (to make the trade)…Danny Mwanga is very good with the ball at his feet. He’s good at withdrawing the defenders a bit, but it was difficult for him to stretch the field. I think with Jorge right now we can stretch the field and make it bigger, and make better runs off Pajoy. (Pajoy) can find good spots. He had a tremendous game in D.C. He was very effective on the wings…[Perlaza is] a guy that’s not afraid to pull the trigger. And I think it’s important to try to look, whatever the statistics are, to look at this too.”
Nowak said further of Perlaza,
“We brought him in to stretch the team. He’s the guy going behind defenders and not afraid to stretch the back line and go into the channels that make defenders think. We struggled at that and now we have the guy who is very good at it. We now have another option to keep defenders busy and stretch the back line to move the midfield higher. In the last couple games we’ve played next to each other – no one is going behind the defenders. We want to play three strikers and use Freddy [Adu] in a spot where he can be creative.”
The bottom line is simple, “We have to be more dangerous. We’re moving along but we’re not there yet. And we cannot wait until it’s too late.”
Nowak also made clear that the trade had nothing to do with Mwanga’s work ethic.
“No, that’s not what I said. Danny was a consummate professional. He was great. I cannot say anything negative about him. The technical side of the trade, hungry means neither Danny or Jorge has scored a goal. He wants to be successful. I wish Danny the best. You never know how this is going to work out, but these are the qualities we needed. We believe he is going to help us. Lio will have a good complement and that’s what we’re looking for. The work needs to be done. … We believe he will work out very well and he knows already the people he played with.”
Nowak added, “Danny was a consummate professional on and off the field, and I can’t say one bad word about his work ethic. He was great.”
Mwanga said of Nowak on Wednesday, “Every coach is different, and Peter’s a very strict guy and he likes things a certain way. Some guys can handle it, some guys cannot. Sometimes it’s a good thing. Just depends how you take it. It was a little bit tough at times, not just about the coaching staff, but for the players as well just trying to get on the same page. Like I said, he’s a great coach, gave me an opportunity and I’ll never forget that.”
Mwanga also said, “It would have been nice if things went differently. It would have been great if I could have helped the team more…But it’s almost like a new beginning.”
When asked his view on what went wrong with Mwanga’s development in Philadelphia, Nowak said, “I cannot analyze this thing. I will leave it up to you how to address this thing,” adding, “Danny needs to answer the questions himself — where are you going to be as a professional, where are you going to be as a soccer player?”
Marc Narducci, while accepting that Mwanga did not take full advantage of the chances he found, argues that the Union failed to develop Mwanga properly, particularly in terms of being given adequate time on the field. “Nowak frequently has said that players coming out of college – the way Mwanga did from Oregon State – need to know how to pace themselves and that at times the manager was sitting him for his own good, basically so he wouldn’t burn out. We never bought that line of thinking. When you have a talent who has the most desired skill in soccer – the ability to break down opponents – let him play. So in that aspect, it appears the Union didn’t develop him to his fullest.”
Kerith Gabriel says don’t blame Mwanga or the Union for the trade, blame the curse of being a first round draft pick. “Mismanagement? Maybe. But the pressure of being the first pick, without question.” Ahem.
Philly Union Talk shares its “schizophrenic thoughts” on the Mwanga trade.
Nowak said at the press conference that Roger Torres is ready to return to action on Saturday against Reading United. “He is good to go. He will play.”
The 2012 All-Star ballot was announced on Thursday. Making the ballot for the Union are Zac MacMath, Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes, Gabriel Gomez, Freddy Adu, and Lionard Pajoy. You can register your vote here. You can also Text an MLS player’s first and last name to 22442 with details on how to vote via Twitter to be announced soon.
The Brotherly Game uses the international break as an opportunity to round up various stats for the Union’s season so far and also includes a poll on what is least likely to happen with the club this season.
Ahead of Saturday’s friendly with the Union, Reading United are on the road to face Ocean City Nor’easters tonight at Carey Stadium in a battle for first place in the Premier Development League’s Eastern Conference Mid-Atlantic Division. Ocean City then host Baltimore Bohemians on Sunday at 7pm.
While Reading United is hosting the Union on Saturday night, Harrisburg City Islanders are hosting Wilmington Hammerheads in USL PRO league play at Skyline Sports Complex. Kickoff is at 7pm.
Upper 90 talks to Harrisburg’s Sainey Touray, who scored a brace in the US Open Cup defeat of New York Red Bulls.
The Philadelphia Fever host Boston Breakers at Daniel Boone High School in Birdsboro, PA on Sunday at 7:30pm.
Aron Winter is no longer the manager of Toronto FC. Surprise!
David Beckham has made the 35-player shortlist for the Great Britain Olympic squad. Surprise!
The AP reports, “Vancouver Whitecaps forward Omar Salgado broke his right foot while playing for the U.S. under-20 team.” Ouch!
Edgar Castillo joins Fabian Johnson on the left back injury list ahead of today’s USA match against Antigua & Barbuda.
Sporting News says—gasp!—the US needs a victory tonight.
Jurgen Klinsmann says a simple win in tonight’s qualifier will not be enough.
The New York Times looks at the Antigua & Barbuda team.
Clint Dempsey has been voted Fulham’s Player of the Year.
Peter Nowak says of his native Poland, with Ukraine a co-host of Euro 2012, which gets underway today, “I think we’re going to see the whole country stop with the first whistle. It’s crazy right now.”
SI previews the tournament.
Black players on the Holland team were subjected to racist chants during a training session in Krakow, Poland on Thursday. Said Holland captain Mark van Bommel, “We will take it up with UEFA and if it happens at a match we will talk to the referee and ask him to take us off the field.”
Reuters says bigots and hooligans will test Poland’s images.
Good news: “Poland’s anti-hooligan squads are armed with: Shotguns firing baton rounds that probably won’t kill you as long as you’re 30 meters away, a truck-mounted water cannon affectionately known as ‘the typhoon,’ a high-tech sonic cannon that can make you wet yourself on its lowest setting, dogs trained to bite you directly in the testicles.” Too bad the dogs weren’t around for Holland’s training session.
The Daily Mirror has a gallery of Euro 2012 kits.
Remember that Carlos Ruiz guy? He’s still with Guatemala.