Background: Peter (though some would spell it Piotr) Nowak was the former assistant coach for the US Men’s National Team, but his glory days were spent plying his trade on MLS pitches. Statistically, he may not appear to stack up to some other MLS greats, but his leadership and dedication make him a shoo-in for my Hall of Fame.
Career: Nowak was almost 34 when he came to MLS in 1998, and though he would only play in a little more than 100 MLS games, he performed ably in all of them. He spent his entire US career with the Fire, and he and some of his other Polish mates made that team a contender right off the bat. He will best be remembered for his role of on-field general.
Honors: Let’s see, Nowak doesn’t appear on any of the big statistical top ten lists. So why is he on this list? Because his contributions (i.e. defense, leadership) don’t show up in box scores. He won a MLS Cup and two US Open Cups with Chicago, and he coached DCU to a title. He’s a tough dude, and one of MLS’s greatest Captains and leader of men.
Legacy: Nowak needs no introduction when he meets young US soccer stars. They know him and respect him for the player he was, and they desire his attention as he was Bob Bradley’s former official right hand man and because he’s the new coach of the Philadelphia expansion team. All in all, I couldn’t have an inaugural MLS Hall of Fame class without Nowak, a member of the league’s All-Time Best XI. I would want a delicious Polish sausage (smothered in brown mustard and relish) placed in the Hall as a tribute to Peter (or Piotr) Nowak.