The weather hasn't been ideal for the Union's first week of training in North Carolina, but team manager Peter Nowak has been encouraged that his players aren't allowing the elements to affect their work.

The Union didn't expect to see snow when they began camp Tuesday at the Bryan Park Soccer Complex in Browns Summit, N.C.

"The weather has been cold, there has been snow, and it's been quite a challenge for some of them, but they have adjusted well and the work rate is good, and we're moving in the right direction," Nowak said in a phone interview late Friday night. "We are coming together."

Most of the team is at camp, although defender Shavar Thomas is with the Jamaican national team. Nowak expects him to be in camp next week.

Union defender Michael Orozco will depart next week for the U.S. national team's training camp, which will begin Wednesday in Carson, Calif. Coach Bob Bradley and the U.S. team will prepare for a friendly against El Salvador on Feb. 24 in Tampa.

"It's a great opportunity for Michael," said Nowak, who coached Orozco on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team. "He has to understand what the team and Coach Bradley expect of him."

Nowak promised a difficult camp, and he admitted that it has taken the players some time getting used to it.

"The routine is a little different than other teams', and they are adjusting well and competing hard in practice," he said. "It's very engaging."

The camp has been an eye-opener for young players such as 18-year-old forward Danny Mwanga from Oregon State, the first overall selection in the MLS SuperDraft.

"The whole group is helping Danny - not only Danny, but all the younger players," Nowak said. "The older players are taking the younger ones under their wing, because for them this is tougher than they have experienced in the past."

The team has been going through double-session workouts for the most part, according to Nowak, and is preparing for Saturday's preseason matchup with the University of North Carolina.

"Right now, they are a little tired and will get more tired next week," Nowak said. "We work so hard that the game will actually be a nice break for them."

Contact staff writer Marc Narducci
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