Expansion Union plays opener at Seattle
Peter Nowak won an MLS Cup as a player for the expansion Chicago Fire in 1998.
Repeating the feat as a coach with the first-year Philadelphia Union won't be easy.
"We feel like we've put together a good roster on paper," said the 44-year-old Nowak, who had two assists for the Fire in their 2-0 win over D.C. United in the '98 MLS Cup.
"Games aren't won on paper. We know that. We have to come ready to play every game. The guys from top to bottom have to be ready. I think they will be."
The Union - an interesting name, given there nearly was a strike - play the MLS opener at Seattle on Thursday night, becoming the league's 16th team.
They selected their first 10 players in an expansion draft last November, then added three first-round draft picks in January: Oregon State forward Danny Mwanga, UCLA midfielder Amobi Okugo and forward Jack McInerney.
Former Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Chris Seitz adds a veteran presence. Given that Seattle made the playoffs in its first season last year, Philadelphia has reason to believe it can challenge for a playoff berth in what appears to be a relatively weak Eastern Conference.
"I don't play to lose," Union defender Danny Califf said. "I don't think anybody on this team does. I don't see why we can't win. We'll go out Thursday, roll up our sleeves and try to get three points. To me, that's very realistic. Maybe I'm naive. That's what I feel like. I feel like we can win."
Philadelphia will make its home debut on April 10 against D.C. United at Lincoln Financial Field. After one more game there on May 15, the Union open 18,500-seat stadium PPL Park in Chester on June 17 against Seattle.