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Califf to sit out Union’s Chicago trip


Photo by Andrew Katsampes/

The Danny Califf situation continues to raise a few eyebrows in Philadelphia.

After the Philadelphia Union captain was an unused substitute in last week's home opener against the Colorado Rapids, he and manager Peter Nowak had differing stories on why the veteran centerback did not play. Nowak claimed that Califf was dealing with the aftereffects of offseason meniscus surgery and was not fit to play. Califf, meanwhile appeared to be miffed at the notion that he had a knee injury in his post-loss comments.

Nowak addressed the issue in a conference call this week, saying that fences had been mended, but now comes word that Califf will not travel with the club to Chicago for this weekend's meeting with the Fire. Instead, he will focus on regaining fitness and returning to action in next week's home game against Sebastien Le Toux and the Vancouver Whitecaps.

After being on the other side of the fence, Califf seems to be on board with Nowak's comments now, telling the club's official website that, "We're just going on the trajectory that we want to get (me) fit and strong. So we're taking the week leading up (to the game against Vancouver) and this weekend heading into next week to try and achieve that. Overall just getting fitter and stronger (is the goal)." 

With Califf not available and Sheanon Williams on U.S. U-23 duty, the Union are perilously thin in the back. Chris Albright may be called on again to fill in for Williams at right back, but he picked up a groin strain last weekend. Rookie Raymon Gaddis is another option at right back. As for Califf's replacement, with no true centerback backup on the roster, central midfielder Gabriel Gomez should wind up dropping to the back line.

The Union will also be thinner in the midfield, with Freddy Adu and Amobi Okugo with Williams on U-23 duty.


Do you believe everything that's on the surface with the Califf situation, or do you think there's more to the story? Do you think the Union can get out of Chicago with points without Califf, Williams, Adu and Okugo?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. If they put in Puppo, things could get worse. Chicago will be the team to beat in the east once they get that DP striker in the summer.

  2. The same qualities that made him a great player may interfere with his ability to be a head coach. Or maybe he’s just bat-sh|t crazy.

  3. I don’t completely agree, but I do think coaches from other countries treat replacement level players as an inexhaustible resource – which to an extent they are. That’s not the case in the US, at least it is less the case.

  4. This is some patent nonsense. There’s a difference between being a textbook case of passive aggressiveness and not “coddling” players. Nowak’s history of bizarre periodic outbursts (“What do you mean by impact!?”) and imposing regular communications blackouts to staff, players, and fans alike isn’t evidence of a tough coach, but of a self-absorbed, minor Soviet functionary.

    You don’t have to be a pushover to be fair and open.

  5. Coaches from other countries often don’t hold the hands of childish soccer players. And when you get a coach from Central or Eastern Europe like Nowak, I think this is especially true. Why do you think guys like Mathis, Jozy, Adu, and Eddie Johnson have had tough times in Europe? We, Americans, coddle our guys too much.

  6. As a Union diehard I really hope that Piotr is just looking out for the best interests of Danny. Nowak makes me scratch my head more than I’d like to admit but I also know that Danny’s health is of the utmost importance. I’d rather have Califf for the remainder of the season than Saturday. Get healthy Danny, lord knows the Union need all of the defensive help that they can get!

  7. Nowak should have just refused to release Williams to the U-23 team. I don’t understand why he doesn’t have the right to do that. The Olympics are not FIFA-sanctioned, as far as I’m aware, and this is only qualifying. The same way that Gatt’s club recalled him, Nowak should have kept Williams.

    The fact that the Union are down 3 key/quality players for olympic *qualifying* is ridiculous.

    I think Nowak may also have a point that it’s early in the season, and it’s more important for Califf to be fully fit and fully healthy down the stretch when games really start to matter. It would be a shame for him to play now if there are questions around his knee, only for him to get injured and be out when games really count.

  8. Boca still has the legs to hash it in a top tier league like the EPL or back in France. MLS is a good competition but he won’t get paid nearly what he’s worth.

  9. Nowak graduated from the Atilla the Hun school of coaching. He needs to take some graduate courses elsewhere.

  10. There are things I have always liked about Nowak, but man he seems to butt heads for unfathomable reasons sometimes. It always seems there is always some mysterious personnel dispute

  11. An inexperienced (and possibly slow) backline could lead to a field day for Nyarko and Oduro.

    If Pappa shows up, could be a great home opener for the Fire…

  12. This is an awkward situation. Nowak was acting strange prior to trading away Sebastian Le Toux. Is Califf the next to go?

    And Chris Albright is hurt again…in other news, the Earth is still round.

  13. I’m getting pretty tired of Pyongyank Piotr and the closed-door, bizarro ship he’s been running. I’m betting Califf is toeing the party line because he wants his imminent trade to be relatively decent.

    Philly’s good form last season (and its growing pains in the inaugural season) papered over Nowak’s megalomaniacal management style (which, incidentally, cost him the boot in DC), but it’s coming to a head.

    I really worry about Philadelphia’s ability to cope, especially since Nowak has embedded himself so firmly into the org chart that it would take a major coup to extract him, no matter how crazy he gets.


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