Union grade poorly on handling the Danny Califf situation


Union coach Peter Nowak has every right to build a team as he sees fit.

Managers in this game are no different than any other – hired to be fired, as they say. Staying power in the interim depends on wins and losses and not much else. And since his livelihood is at stake, Nowak should certainly cull the roster and replace with talent that best serves the bottom line – as he sees it.

But here’s the thing: it matters how these delicate little dramas play out. And on this one, Nowak and Union management continue to get failing grades.

On this one (yesterday’s trade that sent his popular captain Danny Califf to Chivas USA), Nowak tried to spin the story that getting Califf closer to his California roots was in the players’ best interest. But who’s buying that?

I get that Nowak aimed to “protect” the veteran player, straining to avoid saying what seems obvious: Nowak felt his team was better off without a 32-year-old defender on the books for $250,000 in 2011. That’s decent money in MLS.

It’s a big boy business. Players get traded. It’s part of the professional sports trade-off for making more dough than the most of us while playing a game.

But they so deserve respect, and that means leveling with them.

And it means handling things better all the way around. This one was handled about as clumsily as it could be.

My guess: Nowak is still operating MLS media 1.0, a vestige of the late 1990s when he came into the league, where you get to tell a mostly compliant set of reporters – many of them young in a day where newspapers used MLS beats as training ground for “bigger and better,” never mind if they didn’t know the game – pretty much whatever you wanted.

Today’s soccer media world, metastasized and sharpened considerably by capable bloggers, isn’t so easily fooled. So word to all GMs, coaches, technical directors, etc.: Just tell it like it is, to the best of your ability, while comporting yourself professionally about the whole thing.

We’ll figure out the rest.