Team manager Peter Nowak expressed confidence that things would work out during his news conference on Wednesday, when he was not being his usual animated self. Nowak appeared subdued in talking about Califf's departure, but was adamant in his belief that the Union way is the right way.
"It's important to move forward and play the way we have for the past two and a half years," Nowak said.
Actually that wouldn't be the best course of action.
The team was 8-15-7 the first year and is 2-6-1 now. Who wants to play with those results? It would have been better to say that the team wants to play the way it did last year, when it went 11-8-15 and earned a playoff berth.
Regardless, one thing the Union have shown is that they are going to do it their way. And for now, with the consistent sellout crowds at PPL Park in Chester, they have the upper hand.
Califf becomes the second highly popular player to leave. The first was Sebastien Le Toux, who was traded before the season to Vancouver for, yes, allocation money.
Le Toux is on the last year of his contract, but he and the Union had a large divide between what each side felt was his worth. (His 2011 salary, according to MLS Players Union was $179,000.)
The Union felt Le Toux would complain about his contract status during the season and be a distraction to the team. Le Toux has denied that. Either way, he is now in Vancouver, where he has a team-high three goals in 10 games for the 5-3-2 Whitecaps.
Only a cynic would suggest that the Union would trade the two players most known for their total candor with the media. The Union would certainly cry foul on that accusation.
The team's brass has constantly said it makes moves only to make the team better. Yet, that doesn't mean the moves have made the team better. There is an old saying that a team is what its record is. That means the Union are a ninth-place team in a 10-team division. Of course almost three-fourths of the season remains.
Besides Califf's being a fan and media favorite, he also brought tremendous toughness and remains among the better MLS players in the air. At 32, did he lose a step? Maybe, but he possesses a high soccer IQ and was a great ambassador for the team and the sport.
"It was amazing the way I was treated, how much support there was not just at PPL Park but in the community," Califf said Thursday. "The way the fans treated me is something that will never be forgotten."
Califf brought character to the team, and was somebody the fans identified with. Not just because he led the Union in tattoos or hairstyles, but because he played hard, rugged, but clean soccer.
That said, it isn't fair to the Union or the 25-year-old Lahoud to criticize the trade. Let's see how it works.
The fans - and, it says here, the team - will sorely miss Califf. He is from Southern California, and this will be a homecoming since Chivas USA plays at the Home Depot Center in Carson.
Califf may be a West Coast guy, but he played with the tenacity that is more identified with the opposite coast. He was a player who offered great presence, a true leader. His now-former teammates appreciated his guidance.
"He was one of the veterans who helped me a lot to make adjustments in the league," third-year forward Danny Mwanga said.
Few could find a bad word to say about Califf. He gave everything he had and leaves the Union desperately seeking a new face of the franchise.
Contact Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225, firstname.lastname@example.org,
or follow on Twitter @sjnard.