CHICAGO (August 8, 2007) – U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati has appointed Peter Nowak head coach of the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team, effective immediately. The 43-year-old Nowak, who has served as an assistant coach of the full U.S. Men’s National Team since December of 2006, will lead the USA’s efforts to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Nowak assumes the post vacated by Bob Bradley, who had been serving as head coach of the U-23’s since December of 2006 and is currently the head coach of the full team.
"Qualifying for the Olympic Games is one of the major goals of our national team programs, and we believe Peter is the right man to lead our efforts,” said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. “He is a proven winner as both a player and a coach at the highest levels, and his ability to mentor young players will be particularly valuable as we continue the process of developing teams that can be very competitive at the international level.”
In addition to his duties helping prepare the U.S. team for Olympic qualifying for the 2008 Beijing games, Nowak will continue to assist Bradley with the full national team. The preliminary qualification to the Men’s Under-23 Tournament commences in the Caribbean this month, with the final round of CONCACAF qualifying expected to take place early next year with the venues and dates to be determined.
“With the integration of so many of our players at the youth and senior team level, Peter is the ideal choice to handle this important responsibility,” said U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bob Bradley. “He has been an integral part of the work throughout 2007 with the full national team, and we have worked throughout the year to introduce a lot of younger players into the pool. Having Peter coach the U-23’s will add another level of consistency and continuity to the work done across the board with our national team programs.”
The announcement coincides with the start of the one-year countdown to the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, being celebrated throughout all the USOC sports with the launch of www.amazingawaits.org.
“I am honored to be named head coach of the Under-23 Men’s National Team,” said Nowak. “We have 12 months to prepare for the most important tournament in this age group, and I am anxious to build on the work that we have already started with many of these players. As we saw in the U-20 World Cup, we have some great young talent, and I will spend the next couple of months getting a good look at the whole group. Our job is not only to qualify for the Olympic Games, but to continue to prepare these players for service with the full national team.”
Nowak has worked with both the full national team and the U-23’s since December of 2006. Together with Bradley, they have seen over 70 players from both teams in competitive games and orchestrated the USA’s championship winning run in the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
A former captain of the Polish national team, Nowak’s professional career spanned 23 years and five countries. He made 24 international appearances for Poland, scoring three career goals. He was named Poland’s Player of the Year in 1996 and served as captain of the national squad for three years. In 2005, he was named a member of the MLS All-Time Best XI.
Nowak began his playing career in his native Poland in 1979 when he was just 15. After stops in Turkey and Switzerland, he moved to Germany and Dynamo Dresden before joining Bundesliga side FC Kaiserslautern in 1994. Transferring to 1860 Munich the following year, he earned Best Playmaker of the Year honors for the 1995-96 season.
Following his time in Germany, Nowak was brought by Bradley to the expansion Chicago Fire in 1998, making an immediate impact as the Fire won the Double in 1998 with MLS Cup and U.S. Open Cup titles. For five years, Nowak patrolled the midfield for the Fire, being named to the MLS Best XI three times and leading the Fire to another Open Cup title in 2000.
After working in the Fire front office for one year following his retirement, Nowak was named head coach of D.C. United in January 2004. In his first year, Nowak led his team to a 3-2 victory in MLS Cup against the Kansas City Wizards after the team had finished no better than fourth in the Eastern Conference for the previous four years. In three years with United, Nowak led the team to a combined 42-27-25 regular season record, including winning the Supporters’ Shield for best regular season record in 2006 with a 15-7-10 record.
The United States qualified for six straight Olympic tournaments between 1980 and 2000 before missing out on the 2004 Summer Games in Greece. In 2000, the team turned in their best performance ever at this level, reaching the final four in Sydney before losing to Spain in the medal round.