DANNY CALIFF is goin' back to Cali.
At his weekly press conference Wednesday at PPL Park, Union boss Peter Nowak put to bed all the rumor and speculation surrounding the stalwart defender.
Pending Major League Soccer approval and other paperwork, Califf, the 32-year-old team captain, is headed back to California via trade to Chivas USA in exchange for a player to be named and monetary compensation.
"We are still in the process of concluding,'' Nowak said. "I did inform Danny, and after Saturday we received another offer," Nowak said. "He was here talking to me and preparing to embrace the whole situation. I think he knew at some point it was going to be time to go home and go back to California, and we decided to conclude this offer.''
Nowak noted that there is going to be a different dynamic in terms of leadership responsibilities in the locker room, but that there are a myriad of players who can take the reins.
Califf, who has been hampered by knee and hamstring issues since the season began, played his last match for the Union in its 1-0 loss to Seattle on May 5. There has been a noticeable decline in Califf's form since he underwent offseason knee surgery in December. In what looks to be a younger, faster Union defensive set, it appears the technical staff found it difficult to figure out where and how Califf might fit.
"In this business it's never easy to say goodbye … but there is a mutual respect and the most important thing is that he's going home," Nowak said. "His family is there and it's where he's from, which is comforting for me. But we have a good group here and if we don't give guys chances, how will we know how they will react to the games? I don't believe we changed a lot with this. Across the board we have a very good game and I think for us it's important to just move forward and play the way we want to play, which is more offensive and taking more risks."
For now, it appears Nowak will rely on the versatility of defender Sheanon Williams to man the central defense alongside Carlos Valdes, a position Nowak said he expects Williams to "embrace." Along with Williams and Valdes, Nowak mentioned that defensive midfielder Brian Carroll is also in the running for the captain's armband. Califf was team captain during the Union's inaugural season and wore the armband in four matches this year.
Looking ahead to a crucial road match Saturday against FC Dallas (8:30 p.m., Comcast Network), Nowak stressed that his team can't afford to let up offensively, after a pair of multigoal matches for the first time since October. In addition, Nowak didn't take kindly to Red Bull New York coach Hans Backe's claim that his team exhausted the Union in Sunday's 3-2 come-from-behind victory at PPL Park.
"I heard Hans Backe say, 'We wore them down,' but he must've forgot we played with 10 men for 60 minutes," said Nowak, referring to the club's shorthanded predicament. "Looking at the game, we had enough with 10 men to tie or even win the game. I like what I am seeing from these guys now. We want to see the success we saw early last year, but we have to let these guys settle in and give them time. We have a good locker room here and the more time we spend to calm players down and get them to settle, their confidence is going to build and I think you are beginning to see that from a lot of the young players and the new guys."
U.S. Open Cup
The Union will host a third-round matchup in the U.S. Open Cup, against either the Brooklyn Italians of the National Premier Soccer League or the Rochester Rhinos of USL Pro. The game is Tuesday, May 29 at 7:30 p.m. at PPL Park.
All 16 American Major League Soccer teams will enter the Open Cup in the third round, and all third-round matches will be played on May 29.
The winner of the U.S. Open Cup receives a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League.