Photo: Earl Gardner
NOTE: This post has been updated to reflect Nowak’s denial of the report.
Philadelphia Union manager Peter Nowak has applied for the open managerial job at Hearts in the Scottish Premier League, according to a Scottish newspaper report.
Nowak is one of at least two applicants for the position, the Edinburgh Evening News reported Saturday after speaking with Hearts director Sergejus Fedotovas, who indicated the club wanted to hire a new manager before training begins next month. The Hearts position opened up Thursday when manager Paulo Sergio declined a new contract Thursday, just one month after leading the club to the Scottish Cup.
Union spokeswoman Aimee Cicero said the Union had no comment.
Nowak subsequently told the Philadelphia Daily News’ Kerith Gabriel the report was “absolutely false.”
Nowak, 47, is in his third year with the Union, for whom he holds the dual titles of manager and executive vice president of soccer operations. He became the club’s first coach in 2009 in advance of its 2010 expansion season and built a technical staff comprised largely of people who previously coached with him or played with or for him. In the process, he established groundbreaking ties with local youth and semipro affiliates, including the USL PRO’s Harrisburg City Islanders and Reading United AC of the USL’s Premier Development League.
Before joining the Union, Nowak managed D.C. United from 2004 to 2006 and the U.S. Olympic team in 2008, serving on then-U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley’s staff from the day he left United in 2006 until the day he joined the Union. He is the only person to win the Major League Soccer championship both as a player and coach, collecting titles with the Chicago Fire in 1998 and D.C. United in 2004.
In July, Nowak is set to coach the MLS in the league’s all-star game.
After making a surprise playoff appearance last year, Nowak’s club has struggled to a 2-7-2 record and the league’s second lowest point total in 2012. He became a polarizing figure this year after selling or trading popular players Sebastien Le Toux, Danny Califf, and Danny Mwanga as part of a broad remaking of the roster. However, the club’s on-field prospects appeared to be turning around after consecutive wins in the U.S. Open Cup.
His top assistant, John Hackworth, would likely be in line for the manager’s position on at least an interim basis if Nowak departs. Hackworth has coached the Union during matches Nowak has missed due to suspension or other matters. He previously served on the U.S. national team’s coaching staff with Nowak and was Olympic Committee Developmental Coach of the Year in 2008. Hackworth spent four years as head coach at the University of South Florida, where he won the Conference USA title and coach of the year award in 1998.