So was this the last straw for Nowak? The Philadelphia Union were beaten by a team that started this season with the worst record in MLS history. And they are running out of excuses. In fact, they are completely out of excuses. Let's take a look at the timeline from the past year.
At this point, Union fans were on top of the world. Their team was fighting for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. They were playing well, scoring goals behind the power of their sure footed striker, Sebastian LeToux. And they were the MLS' 2nd stingiest defense, with Faryd Mondragon between the pipes, and Danny Califf leading the back line. Things were looking good for the Union.
Then the team lost in the playoffs. Union fans were disappointed, but happy. A playoff berth and a home game in their sophomore season? Any Union fan would be happy with that. So despite the loss, Union fans looked to the 2012 season with excitement. They were a club on the rise, with a legitimate star in Sebastian LeToux, a potential star in Freddy Adu, and a rising star in Michael Farfan.
So where are we now? Well let's take a look. Are the Union fighting for 1st place like they were last year? Hmmm, quick check, no. They're fighting for their lives to stay out of the basement. Is the problem LeToux and Mondragon and Califf not living up to their potential? Another quick check, and no. Since Nowak shipped them out, they are all playing well for their new clubs.And the players the Union picked up in their absence?
Well let's see. First you have Lionard Pajoy. Now granted, Nowak has played him as a single striker for much of the season, and that isn't Pajoy's game. But this past weekend, against the worst team in the league, Pajoy was invisible even though he had a partner up top. Gabriel Gomez? I have no complaints about Gomez. he's played well so far, the best of the off season pickups. And Pofirio Lopez? His hair his amazing, his play is not. And that't the nicest thing I can say about him.
The Union have picked up other players this season. But with the lack of playing time for Herdling and 1st round draft pick Chandler Hoffman, I can't make an accurate assessment of how well they'll fit in Nowak's "system"
So where does that leave us? A terrible team. And who can we blame? The constant throughout all of this. Peter Nowak. So what can the Union do? They have two options. Fire Nowak. To me this is the best option. Rip off the Band-Aid instead of peeling it off. Besides, if you fire Nowak now, he can't do any more damage to a team that is already reeling.
The other option is to wait until after the season to fire Nowak. This would be a terrible move. The Union fan base is fed up with Nowak, and waiting any longer will drive fans away. Fans are fed up with Nowak and the Union for the same reason they get fed up with the Eagles and Andy Reid. A coach who seems to wield all the power who refuses to tell his fan base anything. The difference between the Eagles and the Union? The Eagles are an established NFL team with a fan base that will complain but not leave. 50 years of rooting is a hard habit to break.
The Union have no such ties with a fan base. 2 full seasons is all the Union have. That's not much time to build up fan dedication. Granted, the Union still have the River End, and they are still selling out the stadium. But if the season continues the way it is now, that stadium wont be full on a hot and humid July night. So when it really boils down to it, fans need to ask themselves one question.
Who are the Union more loyal to? Nowak or the fans?