June 27, 2010
By Charles Cuttone
Sunday’s win over Seattle illustrates the Union’s growth as a team
The Philadelphia Union team that took the field at PPL Park was very different from the one that opened the team’s first Major League Soccer season in Seattle against the Sounders in March.
|Danny Califf gave Union fans the shirt off his back after Sunday’s 3-1 win over Seattle at PPL Park.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
It’s not that there have been many player changes -- only one in and one out. It’s that the players themselves have changed.
“The confidence is the whole group,” said Union Manager Peter Nowak. “They make themselves better.”
The 3-1 win was only the team’s third of the season, the second at home, but the players seem to feel they have some things figured out. And the early season jitters and the added burden of playing on the road are no longer there.
“The whole group was not happy where we were after ten games,” said Nowak.
With a stadium to call home and 12 more games to go at PPL Park, the team feels it can continue to improve.
“We have to carry this momentum forward,” said veteran defender Danny Califf. “I think we are going to justify the people putting their money on the line to buy a ticket.”
Of course, Califf said those people buying the tickets also help.
“There is an intimidation factor,” he said of other teams having to play at PPL Park in front of Union fans, especially the Sons of Ben. “They are not going to be very nice to you.”
Despite the foul language directed at the opponents, Califf said it was part of the game of soccer. He said players don’t always notice the crowd, but there are times when it helps.
“It’s that time when you are really tired that you get a jolt.”
Califf was one of many players to toss his jersey into the stands and also make a leap into the Sons of Ben section, now dubbed a River Run.
Many of the early losses came because of mistakes, lapses in concentration, and perhaps a belief that the team was not yet a team.
“I think we are a good enough team to win. We need to carry over this belief that we can win,” said Califf. “Championship teams know how to win. We’re still learning.”
Nowak will make sure they don’t forget.
“I’ll let them celebrate, tonight,” he said. “But tomorrow we go back to work.”