By JOEY SAMUEL
After missing four of the Philadelphia Union's first six games of 2012, captain Danny Califf appears to be ready to return to action when the team faces the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
Califf has been plagued by injury concerns so far this season, most recently sitting out games against Colubmus and Chivas USA due to a hamstring pull. But Califf has been participating fully in training this week, and could return against San Jose.
"As for now, yes," said manager Peter Nowak on Califf's status for Saturday. "As you know, situations can change."
In Califf's absence, Sheanon Williams has been shifted over to center back, and has performed quite well. Rookie defender Raymon Gaddis has slotted in at right back in place of Williams, and has also impressed. Williams would likely return to right back if Califf plays.
NOWAK COULD FACE SUSPENSION
Having been sent off in the Union's 1-0 win over Chivas USA last weekend, manager Peter Nowak may face a suspension for this Saturday's match with San Jose. The league's disciplinary committee has not yet made a rulign on Nowak, but it is customary for managers to sit a full game out when sent off, similar to what happens when a player is issued a red card.
"I don’t want to really go into details before the situation with the verdict," Nowak said Wednesday during his weekly press conference with reporters. "We want to see what happens. Going into details won’t change that.
"I know I was in the wrong spot. I know I shouldn’t have been on the field. That’s my fault," Nowak said.
If Nowak is forced to watch the game from somewhere other than the sideline, assistant head coach John Hackworth would run the show for Philadelphia.
MACMATH PERFORMING WELL
Nowak praised the recent play of goalkeeper Zac MacMath on Wednesday. The second-year player has earned three consecutive shutouts after committing some key errors in the first few matches.
"I tried to convince you all that Zac MacMath was the guy in between the posts, and some of you believed me and some of you didn't," Nowak said. "For the goalkeeper position like that, for there to be no shot on goal [against Vancouver and Columbus] that means the back line has helped out a lot. It's simple: when the back line plays good, Zac is very good, and when Zac is playing good, the back line plays better."
UNION WITHOUT FARFAN, DANIEL
Gabriel Farfan and Keon Daniel will both miss the game against San Jose after being issued red cards in the team's 1-0 win over Chivas USA. But while Daniel is not difficult to replace given the multitude of midfielders on the Union, Farfan's absence will not be as easy to cope with.
Porfirio Lopez would seem to be the likely choice to start at left back, but he was benched after performing poorly in the team's first four games. On Wednesday, Nowak did not make it at all clear who would start at left back, even mentioning Sheanon Williams as a potential option.
"We can dispute the cards and calls one way or the other, but it's not going to help us. What helped us was earning the three points," Nowak said. "Now it's a matter of putting the right guys in position. Either Sheanon can fill the left back position or Porfirio, but we'll see where we are.
If Williams were to start at left back, that would likely mean Califf returns to his center back role and Gaddis stays at right back. If Nowak opts for Lopez, Gaddis could be sent back to the bench.
What are your thoughts on Califf's return? How will Nowak's absence affect the Union on Saturday? Who should start at left back?
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