Peter Nowak and his expansion Philadelphia Union begin preparation for their inaugural Major League Soccer season today when players report to training camp in Greensboro, N.C.
Nowak talks to the Philadelphia Inquirer about his goals for preseason training-
The length of the MLS preseason rivals Major League Baseball's, so there will be ample time for development before Philadelphia opens its season March 25 in Seattle against Sounders FC.
The first workout in Greensboro will be tomorrow. The team conducted conditioning workouts last week at the Healthplex Sports Club in Springfield, Delaware County.
"Team bonding is a top priority as we go into our first camp," coach Peter Nowak said. "Second, we want to start to see what we have, what kind of system we can create and which direction we will go to create the system we will play this season."
Nowak made clear that the preseason will not be easy for his players.
"If you want to be successful in this league, you have to be prepared to fight," he said.
That means many players fighting for jobs.
Nowak, who won MLS championships as a player in Chicago and as a head coach of DC United, is not about to make predictions, but from his competitive nature, he says he does not expect to take the typical expansion-team attitude.
"There is a lot of potential and on paper everything looks good," he said. "But you have to be prepared to sacrifice and survive and meet our expectations as a coaching staff."
Nowak knows the league inside out but now his task will be getting to know his own team.
"We have to find our identity and find our way of playing soccer," he said. "Right now, it's like having a blank canvas, and it's up to us to be a Picasso or something we don't understand."
He's hoping for the Picasso version.
"It's important to have an idea and a vision on how to operate," he said.
And that vision starts taking shape today.