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Union Notes: Williams call-up was surprise; Nowak, Califf make up and more



Philadelphia Union right back Sheanon Williams is with the United States U-23 team as it prepares to open CONCACAF Olympic qualifying. While the call-up is an honor for Williams, Union coach Peter Nowak his staff aren't exactly thrilled with how the situation played out.

During a conference call Wednesday with reporters, Nowak expressed how the Williams call-up by U-23 coach Caleb Porter actually came as quite the surprise, at a time when the Union defense has several issues that need sorting out.

Captain and centerback Danny Califf was already held out of last Sunday's 2-1 home loss to the Colorado Rapids, although the circumstances surrounding his benching were controversial. Left back Porfirio Lopez was with the Costa Rican national team Wednesday, taking part in a friendly against Jamaica, prior to returning to the team on Thursday. Now the Union must deal with the loss of their starting right back.

"I think everybody got caught by surprise because he wasn’t in the last two camps with the national team,” Nowak said. “I was communicated by the coach at the end of the January camp in Arizona and Costa Rica that they have better options at right back."

With WIlliams gone for as many as two weeks, it seems likely that veteran Chris Albright will start at right back, although he was subbed out of Sunday's game when he was beaten badly by Colorado's Tony Cascio and is dealing with a groin strain. Another option is rookie Raymon Gaddis, who has yet to appear for the Union after being taken in the second round of this year's SuperDraft out of West Virginia University.

Here are some other Union notes as they prepare for Saturday's game against Chicago:


When Califf was left out of the starting lineup for Sunday's game against Colorado, it came as a surprise to many. After all, Califf had only ever missed a game when injured or suspended during the team's two previous years of existence.

After the game, Nowak said that Califf was rested due to a knee injury he had sustained during the offseason, which wasn't completely healed. But Califf told reporters that he was completely fine, and hadn't even talked to Nowak about being benched.

On Wednesday, Nowak said that the two had talked about it, and that there was nothing to worry about going forward.

“I think it was a very helpful and a very healthy conversation," Nowak said. "The communication was very important from both sides. You have 28 guys in the locker room, and in some capacity, you’ve got to make a decision on who is playing on the weekend. It’s difficult for any of us to explain to the other 17 guys, having chats about why this happened or why you’re not playing or why you’re playing."

With Williams out for Saturday's away contest against the Chicago Fire, Califf is hopeful of returning to the lineup at center back alongside Carlos Valdes.


Having been called up to the U-23 national team to participate in Olympic qualifying, midfielders Freddy Adu and Amobi Okugo will once again be without the Union when they take on Chicago on Saturday. Adu has been named captain of the U-23 team and is quite experienced on the Olympic level. He participated in the 2008 Olympics, where his coach was current Union manager Peter Nowak.


One of the club's versatile options, Gabriel Farfan, is currently nursing a right quad strain. While Farfan is naturally a wide midfielder, he mostly played at left back for the Union throughout 2011, and if healthy could have given Nowak more options in defense heading into the game against the Fire.


  1. Nowak had the option of not releasing him as other coaches have done, but instead chooses to criticize both Williams and Porter. Is he coming unglued?

  2. We’ll take Califf at the Galaxy right now Danny would be happy to come back home also. Come on Nowak…drive him away, I dare you.

  3. really REALLY really. you don’t know the status of your CAPTAIN? Califf better have a bag packed, he’s probably next out the door.

  4. I remember he made some comments after the Sounders game in 2010 and everyone here thought he was a moron then (about players diving and the crowd). His actions in the offseason and so far this season only lead me to think it is completely true.

  5. Peter’s Ego has to Go! Sing it with me…

    That guy is such a tool. Don’t even get me started on him not shaking hands after the Timbers reality check.

  6. Nowak’s comments ring hollow because he’s likely been on the other end of the phone negotiating for players off international dates — and we all know Morales and Gatt were refused release. If the timing is this bad, he surely knows it could be addressed with a one word response, “No.” What’s good for Molde is surely sufficient for the Union. Three words if he wants to toss in an empathetic, “I’m sorry.” But since Williams was in fact released one could read this in a Cuban Missile Crisis fashion where I trust actions over words — we quietly moved missiles from Turkey while publicly acting like the USSR had backed off of its own accord……Nowak beefs to the press but releases the player. Seeing as Porter’s U23 run is likely limited…..not much work in the middle of the 4 year Olympic cycles……how do the complaints even matter.


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