March 21, 2012
By Charles Cuttone
CALL UP CONFUSION
Nowak unhappy about losing Williams
With an already depleted defense, the last thing the Philadelphia Union needed was the surprise call up of Sheanon Williams to the U.S. U23 National Team on Tuesday. Williams was called up to replace Norway-based defender Josh Gatt, who was recalled by his club, Molde, after the team experienced a series of injuries.
|Losing Sheanon Williams to U.S. U-23 team duty was an unwelcome surprise for the Union and Team Manager Peter Nowak.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
“I think everybody got caught surprised because Sheanon wasn’t in the last two training camps with them, the Under 23, in Dallas and the preparation camp,” said Union Team Manager Peter Nowak. “ I was communicated by the coach at the end of the January camp in Arizona and Costa Rica. “
Nowak is dealing with a gimpy defensive corps that includes Danny Califf, Chris Albright and Gabriel Farfan.
“I believe that they have better options at right back,” Nowak said of the U.S. team, which also includes Union players Freddy Adu and Amobi Okugo.
“We saw the roster that was called days ago, right after the Portugal game. It was very clear that he was not in the plans of the national team. We didn’t have any kind of indication during that time the he might be called up last minute. Our understanding was that—and I was part of this process four years ago—that you take the number of players, that if something happens during the camp you don’t call anybody from the outside.
“It was a drastic change, it was very traumatic for the player, for the team, he wasn’t with the team, he’s not with the team for 10 days, it’s a little bit of an adjustment for all of us.”
With the injuries and the loss of Williams, Nowak is still unsure if he change his formation from last Sunday’s 3-5-2 for the upcoming road game with the Chicago Fire on Saturday.
“The whole thing with Sheanon went so fast, we didn’t have a chance to look at everywhere we have,” Nowak said. “It’s the stuff for the next few days, how to accommodate our lineup.”
Nowak, who coached the U.S. 23s before joining the Union, said he had no problem with losing players to National Team call-ups.
“My understanding was I wish to send five of them, I have no problem it just communicating right. They would be in the camp preparing for the tournament, the Olympic Games, I have no problem at all. I think it’s great for our guys. But it was kind of a drastic change in the whole plans.”
Over the past year, Williams, Adu, Akugo, Jack McInerney and goalkeeper Zak MacMath have played for the U.S. U-23s.
When asked if he contemplated not releasing Williams, Nowak’s reply was “It’s not possible.”
Although, because the Olympics and Olympic Qualifying are not officially FIFA events, the club is under no obligation to release players. In fact, Molde’s recalling of Gatt and the refusal of other European teams to release players is what has left the U.S. team depleted. MLS does not have any requirement or agreement with U.S. Soccer to release players, beyond the FIFA requirements, but the league does typically try to cooperate and be flexible, and often times players make their own decisions to stay with the club, like Landon Donovan did at the end of last season while the Galaxy was preparing for MLS Cup.