"I do ask that you please stop sending curses to my Twitter account. My daughters and family read them and it is crossing a line. Thank you"
His plea arrived after the Union confirmed rumors yesterday afternoon it traded midfielder Kyle Nakazawa and a 2013 draft pick for an international roster slot. Just this week, the team announced the departures of goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon and forward Sebastien Le Toux.
The biggest fallout came over the loss of Le Toux, a fan favorite and the club's all-time leading goal scorer. Le Toux, an All-Star and MVP candidate and two-time MLS Fair Play award winner, was sent to Vancouver in exchange for cash after a failed trial with Bolton in the English first division. Le Toux told the Delaware County Daily Times in an article published online yesterday that he was pushed out by Nowak and the front office, which split fans loyal to the team and those loyal to the player many viewed as the face of the franchise.
But as Nowak addressed reporters following only his club's fourth training session, he remained steadfast that there was a method to his madness - even if the fans see otherwise.
"As I said before and I'll say it again this is about the team," Nowak said. "And it's not only me that feels this way, it's the coaching staff, the board and the owners. We all saw the article and what was said [by Le Toux] after the trade, and I feel either you are a part the team or the team is a part of you, and, at the end, I don't think this was the case [with Sebastien]."
Danny Califf, who Nowak said will retain the role of captain this season, wished bon voyage to the Frenchman, but noted the way his former teammate went about conveying his discontent with the franchise was perhaps a little ill-advised.
"I wasn't shocked that he made those comments . . . but that's one avenue you can take and he decided to do it that way," Califf said. "I don't think any less of Sebastien for doing that, but I don't think it's great for our team or our organization. When people are pissed off, sometimes they find different ways to channel their anger. Hopefully, he got it out of his system and can move on and be a great teammate for all those guys in Vancouver."
The man placed somewhat in the middle of the drama was midfielder Roger Torres, whose contract rights were secured amid the Le Toux saga. Speaking via a translater, Torres said yesterday the Union's exercising its option to keep him didn't change the fact he always felt a part "of the Union family."
"I have always felt I had a lot of responsibility, since I have been here," Torres said. "This is no exception; I know I have some work to do, but I am working hard to get better and be the best."
The Union has 2 more days at YSC Sports in Wayne before the second phase of training resumes in Orlando, with a trio of preseason matches ahead, the biggest against USL-1 champions Orlando City. Following a 2-week stay in Florida, the Union will finish training in Costa Rica, in advance of its March 12 opener against Portland.
"Training will intensify as we move into next week, we'll focus more on formations and work with each line," Nowak said. "Moving forward, we are getting ready to advance our preseason and getting ready for the 2012 season. We have a good core group here and a part of being stable is moving past this [outside] distractions and coming together as a team."
MacMath ready to roll
With the departure of Mondragon, second-year goalkeeper Zac MacMath will take the reins. Chase Harrison, the club's third-string goalkeeper late last season, rejoined the roster, but Nowak has said that, as of now, MacMath, is the No. 1 goalkeeper and that he must work to keep that spot. MacMath, whose known his coach since he was 11, feels ready for the "immense responsibility." MacMath, 20, is one of five Union players in camp for the U.S. under-23 men's national team in preparation for the Summer Olympics in London.
"Knowing him for a long time, there is a lot of trust there, and he's trusted me in goal, and now it's about building on that trust," MacMath said. "I am ready and excited. I didn't necessarily think I'd be a starter this soon, but you try to wiggle your way into the No. 1 spot and [last year] I think I even pushed Faryd for the No. 1. Now I have to be a little bit more of a leader, even as a second-year guy."